1. #1
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    Exclamation Texas - Fires destroy more than 100 buildings ...

    4 Killed in Wind-Driven Texas Grass Fires By SHEILA FLYNN, Associated Press Writer

    CROSS PLAINS, Texas - Firefighters searched for missing people and hoped for cooler, calmer weather Wednesday after deadly wildfires raced across thousands of acres of grassland dried out by Texas' worst drought in decades and destroyed dozens of homes.

    The wind-driven fires were blamed for four deaths, the Texas Division of Emergency Management said Wednesday.

    In addition to the deaths, at least three people were unaccounted-for Wednesday in Cross Plains, a town of about 1,000 people, fire officials said. Firefighters were searching burned-out houses.

    More than 100 buildings, including 78 homes, were destroyed by Tuesday's fires, which burned across 13,000 acres, the state emergency management agency said. That included about 25 homes in Cross Plains, local fire officials said. Blazes also destroyed at least two dozen homes in Oklahoma.

    Fires were still smoldering Wednesday in four Texas counties, the agency said. One new fire was reported Wednesday in an isolated area of eastern Oklahoma; it was later contained.

    Patricia Cook said her home in Cross Plains was saved by her 18-year-old son, J.D., and a friend, who saw the flames approaching the house and ran to save it.

    "The fire was literally nipping at their heels," she said. "He just picked up the hose and started watering things down."

    The Cook home is on the same block as the First United Methodist Church, which was destroyed.

    "We had a tornado here years ago and we thought that was devastating. This lasted for hours and hours," she said.

    Severe drought, wind gusting to 40 mph and temperatures reaching the low 80s set the stage for the fires, which authorities believe were mostly set by people ignoring fire bans and burning trash, shooting fireworks or tossing cigarettes on the crunchy, dry grass. A fallen power line apparently started one Oklahoma blaze.

    "If we have a situation where we are able to prove that someone intentionally started this, we will probably prosecute them to the full extent of the law," said Kennedale Mayor Jim Norwood.

    Temperatures peaking in the 60s and 70s were likely Wednesday. "The little cooler conditions will help, if the winds stay down," Norwood said.

    However, the area is unusually dry.

    "This is the driest that we know on record since 1959," Keith Ebel, a deputy Texas fire marshal, said on CBS' "The Early Show." "It's extremely dry. We have lakes that have completely dried up that are normally 20, 30 feet deep."

    North Texas, where many of the fires broke out, is experiencing its driest year since 1956, the National Weather Service said. As of Wednesday, 18.97 inches of rain had fallen at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and no more rain is forecast before Jan. 1, meteorologist Alan Moller said.

    That's in sharp contrast with 2004, one of Texas' wettest years on record, when Dallas-Fort Worth got 45.5 inches. The average for the region is 34.73 inches, Moller said.

    Oklahoma has received about 24 inches of rain this year, about 12 inches less than normal.

    Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Traci Weaver called the wildfires the state's worst since February 1996, when blazes that covered 16,000 acres destroyed 141 structures around Poolville, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

    Firefighters in Cross Plains couldn't fight all the blazes at once.

    "Instantly, there were 15 or 20 houses on fire at same time and no way to get around to all of them," said rancher Dean Dillard.

    One of the deaths was a woman found dead in her home in Cross Plains, but no other details were available, Assistant Fire Chief Rick Caruth said. A second was a woman who apparently fell and broke her hip and couldn't get out of her home in Callisburg, near the Texas-Oklahoma line, before it was destroyed by the flames, firefighters said.

    Details on the other two deaths weren't immediately available.

    At least 15 Texas firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation or heat exhaustion, plus two more in Oklahoma, authorities said.

    In Oklahoma City, a child suffered minor burns on his hands when a shed caught fire. That blaze was apparently started by children playing with fireworks, Fire Department Maj. Brian Stanaland said.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Matt Curry in Kennedale, Texas, Tim Talley in Mustang, Okla., Liz Austin in Austin and Paul J. Weber and Anabelle Garay in Dallas contributed to this report.

    Sounds pretty bad there, anyone working these fires in Texas and Oklahoma, BE SAFE!
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Sheri
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    The sky was filled with smoke all around the DFW area. I got called in for OT and got to participate a little but thankfully its under control.

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    Just when we think it is getting better, we have another dry line moving through. The town I am in is under the worst drought warning possible. Here they rate it moderate - extreme - exceptional, and we are of course in the exceptional range.

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    There is a press conference going on right now with the fire marshals of 7 counties around the Ft Worth area. They have banned all sales of fire works, all out door welding, all burning. For 7 days. Tue was the worst, humidity was 6%, wind speed 40 mph, temp 79 degrees, and the worst drought in many, many years. I went to Boyd , the command post looked like the state expo, there was so many trucks. The last I heard 63 companies on scene. Wed. night still had 24 companies. Lost 8 structures on Tue. And 2 on Wed. The fire marshal was just ask the question by the oil and gas companies, DOES THE WELDING BAND INCLUDE US AND THE PIPELINES WE ARE WORKING ON ? his answer THIS MENES ANYONE DOING IT WILL BE PROACUTED.
    http://www.midsouthrescue.org
    Is it time to change our training yet ?

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    Thanks for the update.

    You guys stay safe!
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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