Lone Camp Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Ted Hale fights a wildfire… (Tom Pennington / Getty Images )
North Texas fire officials were hopeful Thursday that cool weather and calm winds forecast over the weekend would help firefighters quell the largest of the state's several wildfires, a blaze that has destroyed at least 39 homes this week.
The fire, fueled by strong winds and relentlessly high temperatures in the drought-stricken state, has charred more than 6,200 acres in Palo Pinto County, forcing hundreds of evacuations and threatening as many as 400 homes since it began Tuesday.
Firefighters made some progress Thursday when the fire burned into flatter ground and became easier to contain, said John Nichols, a spokesman for the multi-agency effort fighting the blaze, known as the 101 Ranch fire. The fire was burning near Possum Kingdom Lake, about 75 miles west of Fort Worth, where a fire last spring destroyed more than 160 homes. It was 50% contained.
Across the state, firefighters were battling 14 wildfires that have burned nearly 20,900 acres, said April Saginor, a spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service.
Since January, more than 18,000 wildfires have broken out across Texas, charring about 3.4 million acres and destroying 660 homes.
Conditions have been so primed for fires that even when rain does fall, it has little effect, Saginor said.
"We're not getting any moisture here," she said. "We're getting nothing from these little tropical storms that are hitting us."
In Oklahoma, firefighters continued to assault a blaze in northeast Oklahoma City that had destroyed more than 30 homes, burned about 18 square miles and forced hundreds of evacuations in a rural area, said Deputy Chief Marc Woodard of the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
"I can't tell you the last time we got rain," Woodard said.