AMARILLO, Texas – Numerous wildfires erupted in the parched, windy Texas Panhandle on Thursday, destroying nine homes and prompting a mandatory evacuation of two small towns.
More than a dozen fires burned at least 27,000 acres in the Panhandle, destroying homes north of Amarillo, the Texas Forest Service said. A fire south of Pampa in Gray County consumed 5,000 acres and forced the evacuation of at least 600 residents from Lefors and Bowers City.
“You can see we have a big, big problem, and the weather’s not cooperating,” said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Wayne Beighle. “The winds are relentless.”
Residents were taken to a shelter in Pampa, about 54 miles northeast of Amarillo, Beighle said. By late Thursday, firefighters had gained control over some of the wildfires and residents were allowed to return. No injuries were reported.
“You can call that a bullet dodged,” Beighle said.
He said winds gusted to 70 mph, toppling an 18-wheeler along a rural road.
Fires last month burned nearly a million acres in the Panhandle.