February 24, 1996 in Nation/World

Grass Fires Raging Across Texas Nearly 3,000 Fires This Year, Biggest One Contained

Associated Press
 

One monstrous wildfire was contained Friday, while others raged out of control across parched Texas grasslands, destroying dozens of homes and injuring at least 49 people. Out-of-state reinforcements were sent to help.

‘We’re worried about other hot spots,” said Gov. George W. Bush, who toured some of the damage the night before. “Fires are popping up all over the state. One of the things we’ve got to do is marshal resources.”

Bush, who looked at some of the burned-out 16,500 acres near Poolville, has asked for a federal disaster declaration for the entire state.

That fire, now contained, had been fed by unseasonably hot, windy and tinder-dry weather, burned acres in Parker, Wise and Jack Counties.

Tennessee sent 15 firefighters and six fire plow units, and seven firefighters left South Carolina with state equipment.

In Shackelford County in northwest Texas, 8,000 to 10,000 acres continued to burn Friday. In central Texas, civilian and military firefighters continued to battle a 5,000-acre blaze at Fort Hood in Coryell County.

Crews managed to contain by Thursday night a fire that charred 6,000 acres in Stephens County, about 40 miles west of Poolville.

As of Thursday, 2,912 blazes had consumed 79,000 acres in the first seven weeks of 1996, said Jo Schwiekhard Moss, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Emergency Management. She cautioned that for every fire reported, eight go unreported because local jurisdictions can contain them without help.

In all of 1995, 1,500 fires charred 18,000 acres.

No cause had been definitely established for the fires. In Oklahoma, flames have destroyed thousands of acres and at least a dozen homes. One firefighter suffered cardiac arrest and died Friday near Okemah, about 70 miles east of Oklahoma City.

Residents were evacuated in several areas.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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