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Officials: Texas wildfires burn 1,000+ homes

September 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Officials said on Tuesday that more than 1,000 homes have burned in at least 57 wildfires across 17 counties in Texas.

The largest of the fires in Bastrop County, about 25 miles east of Austin, was still burning out of control. It has scorched more than 30,000 acres.

Calmer winds Tuesday were expected to help in the battle against wildfires that flared up when strong winds fed by Tropical Storm Lee swept across Texas over Labor Day weekend.

Gov. Rick Perry canceled his presidential campaign events to return to Texas and monitor the flames. He toured the fire-ravaged state by helicopter.

"When we have fires of this type, you normally would see white smoke. In these, they're interspersed with substantial amounts of black smoke, which is unfortunately homes," he said.

Hot and dry conditions are expected to continue.

At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes in Bastrop County, and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said Monday.

Dan Hugo returned from war less than a month ago. He said his home was devoured by the fire.

"I did a year in Afghanistan, and I just got home, and here we are," he said.

School and school-related activities were canceled Tuesday.

The terrain is so parched that officials are warning residents to avoid any activity that might set off fires. The most recent flames were triggered by power lines torn down by winds or by residents barbecuing over the Labor Day weekend.

See photos of the wildfires burning in Texas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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