FIREFIGHTERS TRYING to control a wind-fuelled wildfire that has destroyed nearly 500 homes in south-central Texas were looking for a few overnight hours of diminished winds as thousands of evacuees spent the night away from their threatened homes.
Slack winds were expected after midnight tonight and could enable firefighters to make progress on the massive blaze racing through rain-starved farm and ranchland, authorities said. Fanned in part by howling winds from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, the blaze rapidly grew yesterday to at least 25,000 acres.
“You have to be optimistic and at the same time prepared for the worst,” Texas Forest Service spokesman John Nichols said Monday night, acknowledging the weather’s unpredictability.
At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes in Bastrop County about 40 km east of Austin, and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said Monday. School and school-related activities were cancelled Tuesday.