Wildfires destroy 14 homes in Texas

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AMARILLO, Texas (AP) – Two wildfires erupted Thursday in this dry and windy city, destroying 14 mobile homes and several structures before they were brought under control, officials said. There were no reports of injuries.

Some of the mobile homes were vacant. The American Red Cross chapter was working Thursday night to help the fire victims.

“It looked like a war zone out there,” Fire Capt. Bob Johnson said in the Amarillo Globe-News’ Friday editions. “It was similar to a tornado coming through. There was so much destruction.”

About 400 acres burned, though estimates were difficult because wind gusts of nearly 40 mph grounded Forest Service aircraft, agency spokeswoman Traci Weaver said. The fires were 90 percent contained by Thursday afternoon, she said.

Several cars burned in a junkyard, and authorities tried to evacuate homes in the area, but most efforts focused on protecting the homes in the fire’s path, Johnson said.

“We did save a lot of (structures), but it was moving so fast,” Johnson said. “It kept jumping highways, too.”

The temperature was in the high 60s with a relative humidity of 12 percent.

Weaver said the conditions were similar to March 12, when hundreds of blazes broke out in the parched region, burning some 960,000 acres and killing 11 people. Since Dec. 26, more than 11,000 fires have burned about 4.9 million acres and destroyed about 400 homes, according to Gov. Rick Perry’s office.

The fires were burning about 17 miles from the nation’s only nuclear weapons assembly facility, but the westerly winds meant it likely wouldn’t be threatened, Weaver said.

Amarillo, a city of 176,000, is in the Texas Panhandle, about 335 miles northwest of Dallas.

Also Thursday, a prairie fire burned several buildings and forced the evacuation of a number of homes near Hutchinson in central Kansas. Firefighters worked to contain the blaze to a 21-square-mile area.

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