Wildfires Ravage Texas

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 11:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The southwestern U.S. state of Texas is fighting wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and burnt nearly 15,000 hectares of land.

Two fatalities have been attributed to the fires. Authorities say a 20-year old mother and her child failed to evacuate their home before fire consumed the dwelling.

Sixty-three new wildfires have been reported as Texas suffers its worst drought in decades. The parched earth has fueled the fires, worsened by winds from Tropical Storm Lee which came ashore Sunday in the bordering state Louisiana.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican Party's presidential nomination, cut short a campaign visit to South Carolina Monday and returned home to oversee the fire-fighting efforts. As he went before television cameras, the governor urged people in harm's way to listen to evacuation orders.

The state has deployed aircraft, including four heavy tanker planes, to combat the fires.

The worst blaze, near Austin, the state capital, stretches for more than 25 kilometers.

State and local officials say nearly 21,000 fires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes since the start of wildfire season.