bastrop fires in the new york times
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Wildfires in Parched Texas Kill 2 and Destroy Homes
Larry W. Smith/European Pressphoto Agency
The Texas wildfires have burned more than 14,000 acres of the drought-stricken state and destroyed hundreds of homes. More Photos »
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
Published: September 5, 2011
HOUSTON — Firefighters struggled to gain control of fast-moving wildfires that consumed tens of thousands of acres of drought-stricken areas of Texas on Monday, as high winds spurred flames that have killed a mother and her child, destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and forced Gov. Rick Perry to cut short a presidential campaign trip to South Carolina and return to the state.
Deadly Wildfires Burn Through Texas
Over the weekend and into Monday, the Texas Forest Service responded to dozens of new fires throughout Bastrop and Travis Counties and other parts of Central and East Texas. The biggest fire was in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, where 25,000 acres had burned, nearly 500 homes had been destroyed and at least 5,000 people had been evacuated since Sunday afternoon, according to county and state officials.
“It is the worst fire season in the history of Texas,” said Justice Jones, a spokesman for the forest service, “and Sunday was the worst fire day in the state’s history in regards to home losses.”
In Bastrop County, school district officials canceled classes for Tuesday and transformed the local middle school into a shelter for evacuees. In a rural area in Gregg County in northeast Texas, a young woman and her child were trapped in their mobile home and unable to escape the flames of a wildfire that destroyed their home and four others on Sunday.
“The wildfire situation in Texas is severe, and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property,” Governor Perry said Monday in a statement. “I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas.”
Mr. Perry had been in South Carolina, where he was scheduled to take part in a forum with his Republican rivals. But he returned to Texas on Monday to monitor the situation and to appear at a news conference in Bastrop.