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Wildfires rage on in Texas

Over 20 uncontained blazes across the state have firefighters and resources spread thin.

April 20, 2011|Stephen Ceasar

Texas firefighters continued to battle rampant wildfires that have burned 1.4 million acres, destroyed hundreds of homes and prompted the evacuation of communities across the state.

The state's worst drought in nearly a century, unusually high temperatures and strong winds have fueled more than 20 uncontained fires, spreading firefighting resources thin, said April Saginor, a spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service.

"We're seeing it from border to border," Saginor said Tuesday. "They're spanning the entire state right now."

Since January, 797 wildfires have broken out across Texas, destroying 285 structures.

This week, four smaller fires converged into what is known as the PK Complex Fire. It grew significantly overnight and had charred more than 147,000 acres in Stephens and Pinto counties near Possum Kingdom Lake, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth, by Tuesday.

Strawn, Bunger and other communities in the area were evacuated. The blaze destroyed at least 31 homes and threatened more than 600, the Forest Service reported.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, April 22, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
Texas wildfires: An article in the April 20 Section A about wildfires in Texas omitted part of a county name in the state. It is Palo Pinto County, not Pinto County.

Firefighters north of San Angelo continued to struggle with a 150,000- acre blaze, known as the Wildcat Fire, which remained at 10% containment Tuesday.

Firefighters were able to save 400 homes near the fire, officials said.

Firefighters battling the PK Complex and Wildcat fires were assisted by Air Force C-130 cargo planes equipped with 3,000-gallon tanks capable of dropping flame retardant over a swath of land a quarter-mile long and 60 feet wide.

In a letter to President Obama on Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry requested federal emergency assistance, saying all but two of the state's 254 counties had been threatened or affected by the fires.

Weather forecasts for Wednesday say there will be a break in the high winds that have whipped up flames, and possible showers. But critical fire conditions are expected to return in the following days.

"We're looking at it as a marathon, not a sprint," Saginor said.

--

stephen.ceasar @latimes.com

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