Flames and smoke rise from above the trees as a wildfire burns near Possum Kingdom Lake
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 parched, dry land. REUTERS

Wildfires raging east of Austin, Texas, have destroyed 1,554 and 17 people missing, officials say.

Authorities are uncertain whether the missing people are out of town, as Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering have told the media that officials have been unable to contact them.

Though firefighters on Saturday managed to make progress with a large wildfire in the central part of the state, they still have some concerns over some hotspots that are still smoldering. These hot spots are the reason thousands of residents can't return home at this time.

Reports are that evacuees are wanting to go home, and their tension was seen at a news conference where the residents shouted questions at county officials, demanding to know when they could return to their homes in the Bastrop area, The Associated Press reports.

Bastrop is about 30 miles east of Austin. That blaze, which began last Sunday is about 40 percent contained, the Austin American Statesman reports.

Officials say they do not know how long it will be before residents will getthe green light to go home.

The wildfire season began around last November, sparking hundreds of fires. A blaze has consumed more than 20,000 acres in a tri-county area north of Houston. Nearly 190 wildfires erupted in Texas over the last week, The AP reports.

Four people have lost their lives, thousands had to flee and more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed.

Tony Wilder, Texas Forest Service incident commander for the Southern Area Red Team, release a statement over the weekend noting the challenges being faced in fighting the Bastrop blaze.

Fighting the Bastrop fire is extremely complicated, he says. Because there are many homes at risk within the perimeter of the fire, we have to divide our attention between securing the perimeter and protecting homes that are still at risk.

County emergency management director Mike Fisher says the number of homes destroyed is expected to increase as officials enter more areas where the fire has been extinguished.