500 Homes Ravaged, 5000 Evacuated as Wildfires Engulf Texas (PHOTOS)

  on September 06 2011 7:26 AM

A roaring wildfire stormed in Texas on Monday destroying nearly 500 homes. The fire was accelerated by the roaring winds, remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

The wildfire destroyed hundreds of home and at least 5,000 people were forced to leave their homes in Bastrop County east of Austin and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said. At least two people died in the wildfire, officials said.

At least 476 homes were destroyed in the fire that raged into the second day after erupting on Sunday, state officials said on Monday.

Bastrop a town of about 6,000 people was covered with huge clouds of smoke into the sky.

The Bastrop fire is one of more than sixty fires that have erupted in drought-ridden Texas from Possum Kingdom Lake in Palo Pinto County to a swath of Central Texas not far from the state's capital city of Austin, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The fire has also burned more than 25,000 acres (10,100 hectares) in Bastrop County, making it the worst-ever single fire in the state. In addition, 251 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.

I'm still seeing no containment, said April Saginor, public information officer for the Texas Forest Service, who confirmed that the Bastrop County Complex Fire has scorched more than 25,000 acres, reports Reuters.

About 250 firefighters were trying to control the fire that stretches for 16 miles with a breadth of six miles in some spots. A Type 1 incident management team has been requested to assist at the Bastrop County Complex.

Wildfires burning across Texas were fueled by drought conditions and strong winds generated by Tropical Storm Lee.

While Bastrop County was the scene of the biggest fire, the roaring flames devastated 25 homes in the Steiner Ranch subdivision of Travis County and forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for various parts of Bastrop and also Travis County, where Austin is located. About 20 homes were destroyed in a fire that spread across 7,000 acres southeast of Spicewood, another Travis County community, said officials.

All school-related activities in Bastrop were canceled on Monday.

A 20-year-old woman and her 18-month-old daughter in Gladewater died when wildfire devastated their home on Sunday.

According to Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald, bulldozers and pumper trucks also were deployed against the fire.

Jan Amen of the Texas Forest Service described the central Texas blaze as a monster, and Gov. Rick Perry cut short a presidential campaign trip to South Carolina and returned to Texas.

I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas of the state, he said.

Perry said that the recent fires across Texas, which have burned 3.5 million acres, are roughly the size of Connecticut.

Perry told the people to obey evacuation orders and not to stay in their homes if they had lost power.

I understand that losing your home or lifetime possession is incredibly difficult, but do not put your life in jeopardy, Perry said.

Wildfire in Texas

Flames and smoke rise from above the trees as a wildfire burns near Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas, September 1, 2011. Wildfires raged through Texas and Oklahoma threatening homes, buildings and charring thousands of acres of dry land. Reuters

Wildfire in Texas

Flames engulf vegetation near Bastrop State Park as a wildfire burns out of control near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011. An estimated 1,000 houses are being threatened in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, as a 14,000-acre (5700-hectare) wildfire rages out of control, causing evacuations. Reuters

Wildfire in Texas

Flames engulf a road near Bastrop State Park as a wildfire burns out of control near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011. An estimated 1,000 houses are being threatened in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, as a 14,000-acre (5700-hectare) wildfire rages out of control, causing evacuations. Reuters

Wildfire in Texas

Smoke engulfs a house while a wildfire goes out of control near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011. An estimated 1,000 homes are being threatened in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, as a 14,000-acre (5700-hectare) wildfire rages out of control, causing evacuations. Reuters

Wildfire in Texas

A man tries to douse ground flames with a water hose to combat the advancing flames as a wildfire goes out of control near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011. An estimated 1,000 homes are being threatened in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, as a 14,000-acre (5700-hectare) wildfire rages out of control, causing evacuations. Reuters

Wildfire in Texas

A fallen tree burns near a fence line on the side of the road as a wildfire advances near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011. Reuters

Wildfire in Texas

Flames engulf a road near Bastrop State Park as a wildfire goes out of control near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011. Reuters

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