A wildfire ravaged Texas region on Monday, destroying nearly 500 homes.
The wildfire, accelerated by roaring, remnant winds of tropical storm Lee, destroyed hundreds of homes. At least 5,000 people were forced to leave their residences in Bastrop County, east of Austin, and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said. At least two persons died in the wildfire.
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.
The Bastrop fire is one of more than 60 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 had scorched more than 25,000 acres, reported Reuters.
About 250 firefighters were trying to control the fire that stretched for 16 miles with a breadth of six miles in some spots. A Type 1 incident management team was 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 had been issued for various parts of Bastrop and Travis County. Austin is located in Travis County. About 20 houses were destroyed in a fire that spread across 7,000 acres southeast of Spicewood, another Travis County community, said officials.
All schools in Bastrop were closed 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 were deployed.
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, were 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.