Triple-digit temperatures, high winds and bone-dry vegetation make the perfect ingredients for devastating wildfires, as a record 24 continue to sweep across Texas, claiming at least a dozen homes and damaging many more.
The two dozen fires, located about 100 miles north of San Antonio, have burned 7,774 acres from central to east Texas and as far south as Walnut Creek.
With extreme heat warnings and little rain forecast for the next 10 days, the fire is expected to claim more property as it approaches urban areas.
No deaths were reported, and only minor injuries.
Bruce Purcell and Beth Key’s property was destroyed by the Chalk Mountain wildfires this week.
Governor Greg Abbott told Texans to be on the lookout for Texas wildfires during the summer heat, when temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The state of Texas remains quietly steadfast in our coordinated, coordinated response to help Texans and communities,” Abbott said. ‘As we continue to deploy all available resources in response to the widespread fire and drought conditions, Texans are encouraged to stay alert and weather aware to protect themselves and their loved ones from dangerous wildfires.’
Last week, Abbott renewed disaster area declarations for the 72 counties affected by the wildfires. Drought warning has been renewed for 189 districts in the region.
One DC-10 and two MD-80s dropped 60,000 gallons of fire on Chalk Mountain.
Residents living near the Chalk Mountain wildfire were evacuated to an FEMA shelter set up at the Somerville County Expo Center, which has animal enclosures.
More than 115 firefighters were deployed to fight the 7,700-hectare fire.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the largest Chalk Mountain fire that started on Monday has reduced 10 square miles of brush, grass and pine to cinders and is only 10. Contains percent.
From burning tree crowns, red hot embers can be seen floating 200 meters in the air, widening the path of the dangerous fire.
Brandon Purcell and Beth Key quickly gathered family photos, clothes and insulin for her son and drove them to the Somerville County Expo Center, where the Federal Emergency Management Administration set up beds for evacuating homeowners and sheltering livestock.
Beth Kee, left, and Brandon Purcell, right, quickly gathered family photos, clothes and insulin for her daughter and took her to the Somerville County Expo Center.
The Texas A&M Forest Service map shows active fires marked with red dots around the state
My parents lost everything in their house; My uncle lost his house, another aunt lost everything and another aunt is still fighting there trying to keep her house. It’s just gone in my family — one, two, three, four,’ Key told WFAA News.
Firefighter spokeswoman Alexandra Schwier said 16 homes were destroyed and another five were damaged.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management is coordinating with the Texas A&M Forest Service to bring the fire under control, the governor said.
Record temperatures, dry brush and high winds created ideal conditions for wildfires.
Beth Kay, who lives in Somerville County, said she took her daughter’s clothes, family photos and insulin before fleeing her family’s farm.
No deaths were reported in the Chalk Mountain and Possum Kingdom Lake fires, but at least two dozen homes were destroyed.
He said 115 firefighters from 30 engines and four water tenders are battling various fires.
In addition to high temperatures, winds of 10 to 20 mph and relative humidity hovering around 20 percent in the desert will make fighting the fire more difficult, the Forest Service said.
“Resistance to control is often high in these fuels and makes suppression efforts challenging for firefighters,” said Forest Service fire analyst Luke Kanklerz.
At Chalk Mountain, 90 firefighters worked around the clock, digging containment lines around the northeast edge of the fire.
One DC-10 large water tanker and two MD-80s dropped 60,000 gallons of fire on the leading edge of the fire, Schwier told The Associated Press.
Somerville County Judge Danny Chambers has released a statement about his possible resignation. A voluntary evacuation notice was issued for the rural northwest quadrant of the county, and a no-fly zone was declared for the entire fire area.
According to the governor, 99 percent of the region is experiencing drought.
The 1148 fire near Possum Kingdom Lake, about 70 miles west of Fort Worth, has burned 500 acres and destroyed at least 12 homes, fire officials said.
The Forest Service used bulldozers to dig containment lines around the leading edge of the fire. Two crew members were treated for minor heat injuries and returned to service.
There was good news about the King Creek Fire in Kaufman County, which was 85 percent contained as of Wednesday. It destroyed 452 hectares of land.