Large wildfire in East Texas forces evacuations

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 19, 2011 12:18 PM
Large wildfire in East Texas forces evacuations

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - One of the largest wildfires in East Texas history was burning on about 14,000 acres on Sunday, threatening dozens of homes and forcing the evacuation of several rural communities about an hour's drive north of Houston, officials said.

Two homes have been destroyed, but no injuries have been reported in the fire, which started Friday and is 20 percent contained, said Richard Reuse of the Texas Forest Service.

Firefighters were using helicopters and bulldozers in their efforts to contain the blaze, but they are fighting an uphill battle against the weather, Reuse said.

"We're expecting extremely bad weather today," he told Reuters. "High winds, low humidity and high temperatures. That combination is making for one of the worst fire days we've had in weeks."

Several new wildfires have started around the parched Lone Star state since Saturday afternoon, he said.

This year, more than 2.9 million acres have burned in Texas, according to a June 14 report from the Texas Forest Service.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks; editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Ellen Wulfhorst)