September 12, 2011 by USA Post
Texas Wildfires, The number of homes destroyed by a wildfire in Texas has increased to 1554 and is expected to increase further as firefighters go into more areas where the fire has been extinguished, authorities said Sunday. Seventeen people remain missing.
Bastrop County officials accompanied by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett tried to provide new information to hundreds of residents evacuated their homes last week when the fierce wind lashed by tropical storm swept through parched Lee, affected by drought in Texas, helping to spark more than 190 wildfires across the state. The worst of the fires have consumed over 34,000 hectares in the area 30 miles southeast of Austin.
By sharing the bad news that the count of homes destroyed will increase, officials also said about 100 people gathered at a press conference on Sunday that people begin to return to burned areas today.
A detailed plan will allow residents to go slowly evacuated areas over the next week as firefighters and emergency personnel to ensure the land is properly cooled, hot spots and extinguish the fire is contained.
The tension and frustration boiled over at a similar meeting on Saturday, when residents demanded to be allowed to return to their neighborhoods to see what’s left of their homes and try to salvage some belongings. Many people were given only minutes to evacuate the furious fire surrounding homes and neighborhoods. Some had time to gather with only four important things. Others left with only the clothes on their backs.
However, Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering said there was no immediate concern for the lives of 17 people remain missing.
“They could have been on vacation,” he said.
George Helmke, 77, a former gate agent Delta, is scheduled to return home on Thursday. A police roadblock about 150 yards from his home is prevented from accessing their property even though no fire damage.
“It’s almost inhuman, and I’m very frustrated,” said Helmke. “We have had eight days already.”
The federal government has declared Texas a disaster area, paving the way for individuals to obtain financial aid. Doggett said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will incur a 75 per cent of the costs of fighting fires, and families will be eligible for up to 30,000 and to pay expenses not covered by insurance, such as hotel bills, temporary housing and construction, including costs.
County emergency management director Mike Fisher said the fire was 50 percent Bastrop contained.
North of Houston, meanwhile, firefighters say a fire in the three counties that has consumed over 20,000 acres and destroyed about 60 homes was contained in half.
Fire in Washington State • Eighteen houses were burned in a fire moving through the dry forests near the pass of Satus in Washington state, and that number could rise, officials said Sunday.
The fire had burned more than 6 square kilometers about 20 kilometers north of the Columbia River about 12 miles northeast of the city of Goldendale since last Wednesday. The fire 4,250 hectares were 30 percent contained as of Sunday.
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