Dozens of wildfires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Texas and California in the past week.
Fueled by drought conditions and wind gusts from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, the massive Bastrop County Complex fire east of Austin is the most destructive fire of the year, Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said. Despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters, the blaze has grown to 30,000 acres and is still uncontained.
“The thing that’s scary about this one is it’s moving so quickly and it’s jumped highways and rivers,” Julie Hart, a Bastrop City Council member and B&B owner, told The Los Angeles Times. “No one’s sure where it’s going to go. The winds are 20 to 30 miles per hour and everywhere you look, there’s smoke.”
Since the traditional fire season began earlier in the year, firefighters have battled nearly 21,000 wildfires in Texas. Fifty-seven separate fires continue to burn across the state. On Monday, the Bastrop fire prompted Gov. Rick Perry to leave South Carolina, where he was campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, and return to his home state to visit with fire survivors and appeal for federal aid.
In California, a wildfire burning just south of Tehachapi continues to grow. The blaze started Sunday when a small plane crashed, killing the two occupants. Since then, it has destroyed 27 homes and buildings and blackened more than 8,600 acres of grass and woodlands. To date, firefighting crews have managed to contain about 10 percent of the blaze, though 650 residences are still threatened. Smaller fires have been reported near North Mandeville Canyon Road in Los Angeles, in the Agua Dulce area, in the Verdugo Mountains, on Vinevalley Drive near Sun Valley and near North Canyonback Road in the Santa Monica Mountains.