Texas Wildfire Is 'Worst Ever'

Nearly 500 homes destroyed; 3.5M acres charred this year

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 6, 2011 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Wildfires continued to ravage Central Texas yesterday as firefighters battled the most devastating single fire in Texas history, the Los Angeles Times reports. As of yesterday, 476 homes had been destroyed in Bastrop County, east of Austin; firefighters battled the flames as they tore through thousands of acres. With 40 square miles already charred, the fire remained a threat, though no one has been seriously injured, the American-Statesman notes. “This one is as mean-looking as I've ever seen,” said Gov. Rick Perry.

But “we will pick up the pieces. We will rebuild,” he said, adding that he’d call on the federal government for a major disaster declaration. Reduced winds are expected today, but forecasters still see “extreme” growth potential for the Bastrop fire; some 5,000 people have been evacuated. The blaze continues a disastrous year for Texas wildfires, with 3.5 million acres burned and six of the 10 biggest wildfires in Texas history occurring this year. “There are so many big fires—23 and counting—there are simply not enough firefighters and aircraft to go around,” says an NPR reporter. They "move so fast, they kill."

Gov. Rick Perry holds a news conference to discuss wild fires in central Texas, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, in Bastrop, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011 burns piles of lumber and ranch posts.   (AP Photo/Erich Schlegel)
Firefighters from around the state battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Erich Schlegel)
Firefighters from around the state battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Erich Schlegel)
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It almost feels like the whole state is burning. - Gary Bonette, who lost his home in fire

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