Texas Fires' Toll: 1,000 Homes and Counting

Firefighters still trying to contain blazes fed by Tropical Storm Lee
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 6, 2011 3:46 PM CDT
Car collector John Chapman surveys the losses at his home Tuesday in Bastrop, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze near Austin that is still raging out of control, officials said today. Gov. Rick Perry, who cut short a presidential campaign trip to South Carolina to return to Texas, toured a blackened area near Bastrop, about 25 miles from Austin, where a fast-moving blaze destroyed nearly 600 homes yesterday.

"Pretty powerful visuals of individuals who lost everything," Perry said. "The magnitude of these losses are pretty stunning." The Austin-area fire had scorched some 30,000 acres by today, and the Texas Forest Service said crews were still trying to contain it. The blaze—already the single most destructive fire in state history—was one of dozens that started Sunday in Texas and that were fed by strong wind gusts caused by Tropical Storm Lee. Forestry officials said today's calmer winds should help.

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