Home NewsU.S. News Fatal Texas Wildfire Forces Evacuations and Destroys 50 Homes

Fatal Texas Wildfire Forces Evacuations and Destroys 50 Homes

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Fatal Texas Wildfire Forces Evacuations and Destroys 50 Homes

At least one person was killed in central Texas, 50 homes were destroyed and nearly 500 people evacuated after a wildfire burned more than 45,000 acres, officials said Friday.

The wildfire is a cluster of blazes west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area known as the Eastland Complex that began Thursday night. A deputy in the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office, Barbara Finley, died while helping people flee, authorities said.

The Texas A&M Forest Service said on Twitter that the fire was 15 percent contained as of Friday night. It said firefighters had been protecting buildings and constructing fire lines, and planes had dropped water and fire-retardant chemicals in the area.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday signed a disaster declaration that will allow the state to better help the 11 fire-affected counties. He said more counties could be added.

Mr Abbott said the fires remained dangerous due to “changing winds” and dry ground.

“We are battling fires,” he said. “We’re battling weather and wind.”

The Forest Service said Friday it was responding to 10 wildfires across the state that have burned more than 52,000 acres, adding that strong winds and hay were contributing factors.

The National Weather Service’s office in Fort Worth said late Friday that it expects an elevated fire danger over the weekend in several countries west of the city.

The Eastland Complex fire is the first wildfire of this magnitude to hit Texas this year, said National Weather Service meteorologist Madison Gordon.

“It’s definitely a concern,” he said.

The Eastland Complex Fire consists of four blazes that have scorched parts of Comanche and Eastland counties. The Kidd fire, the largest of them, had burned at least 30,000 acres as of Friday.

Affected communities include Gorman, where approximately 475 homes were evacuated; Carbon, where highways were closed; and Lake Leon. Gorman is about 100 miles west of Fort Worth. Shelters have been opened at locations including churches and schools.

Residents shared footage of the fire on social media, including scenes of damage to their homes. The National Weather Service said smoke from the fires was spreading to other parts of the state, including Houston, about 300 miles away.

The Houston Health Department told residents, especially those with breathing problems, to stay indoors Friday.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, smoke from fires can cause health problems, including burning eyes and chronic heart and lung disease.

Vimal Patel and Mike Ives contributed reporting.

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