Dozens of wildfires that have been burning in Texas for the past 10 months are maxing out fire officials' resources, but winds are beginning to blow in favor of firefighters who have managed to contain the largest inferno currently raging in the state.
Fire officials on Wednesday said they have managed to get a handle of the fire in Bastrop County, which is about 30 percent contained.
We have 30 percent containment, which makes us all feel really, really good, Jan Amen, spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service in Bastrop County, told the Los Angeles Times. It's the first day we've been able to say we have some of it buttoned up. We're going to keep working at it.
Officials have been repeatedly saying that their resources are reaching that tipping point, and have told KERA, a public media for North Texas, that if a new fire starts, we have NOTHING to send.
John Nichols of the Texas Forest Service told KERA that the Texas Forest Service has been in this situation for 290 days.
The Forest Service reportedly lost almost $35 million over two years, which is about a third of its regular operating budget. But Nichols made it clear that the loss isn't affecting its ability to fight wildfires. He said whatever resources are necessary are being brought in and who pays how much will be dealt with at a later time.
The emergency takes precedence over anything else. They'll find the resources to pay for it, but that's not even an issue, Nichols said to KUT Radio.
The wildfire season began in November last year and nearly 21,000 fires have destroyed more than 1,500 homes throughout Texas, state officials said.
More than half of those destroyed residences that have been destroyed occurred when new fires began over the Labor Day weekend. Those fires were fueled by high winds and the dry conditions that have left the land parched, creating the state's worst one-year drought on record.
About 2,000 firefighters were battling wildfires that have charred more than 118,000 acres in just a few days throughout Central Texas and other parts of the state to include Montgomery County near Houston.
The fires have been blamed for two deaths and Gov. Rick Perry has deployed a search team to look for more possible victims in Bastrop County. The bodies of those who died haven't been positively identified as yet, officials told The New York Times. Neither have they spoken about the circumstances surrounding the discovery, but officials believe the victims are civilians and not emergency responders.
The winds from Tropical Storm Lee that have been driving the fires to continuing raging have sympathized some over Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, officials said.
Melanie Stradling, spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service who provided a statewide view of the fires, told The Los Angeles Times, That is helping.