In a summer where brush fires have surpassed the worst-season-in-history records, multiple wildfires blazed across southeast Texas Sunday, scorching thousands of acres, stretching across a 16-mile area, and destroying 300 homes, authorities said.
The fires were among more than 20 across the state, the Texas Forest Service said Monday. According to officials, winds from Tropical Storm Lee fanned the flames, CNN reported.
Numerous wind-driven fires forced evacuations in Bastrop County, the Steiner Ranch subdivision, Pflugerville, Spicewood and other areas.
The largest and most destructive fire was in Bastrop County, near Austin, where a blaze burned 14,000 acres and grew to an estimated 16 miles long by the end of the day. It also destroyed 300 homes and threatened about 1,000 others, said Mark Stanford, fire chief of the Texas Forest Service.
It's catastrophic, Stanford said of the Bastrop County fire. It's a major natural disaster.
Firefighters planned to use Black Hawk helicopters to douse the flames with a mixture of water and fire retardant Monday morning, the incident management team said. Tanker trucks will also be used to battle the blaze.
Fire officials said Sunday that the fire closed parts of state highways 71 and 21 and additional road closures were expected.
At least 56 new fires across Texas Sunday burned about 30,000 acres, the state's fire service said; 17 counties reported fires across the state.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Sunday across much of south, central and eastern Texas, which means means weather conditions -- primarily high heat, low humidity and strong winds -- are an extreme fire risk. Sustained winds near 35 mph, with higher gusts, were forecast.
Texas is currently battling its worst fire season in state history. A record 3.5 million acres have burned since the start of the season in November.