Rick Perry
Texas Gov. Rick Perry Reuters

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is heading home from South Carolina to monitor wildfires that are blazing across his state.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the Republican presidential hopeful would head to Texas after an event in Myrtle Beach on Monday with Rep. Tim Scott. Perry had planned to appear with tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint. Instead, the Texas governor is leaving early, The Associated Press reported.

More than 20 fires burned across Texas Sunday, scorching thousands of acres, stretching across a 16-mile area, and destroying 300 homes, authorities said.

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.