An outbreak of wildfires around several small Texas communities has burned at least 50 homes, killed a sheriff’s deputy and left a trail of charred vehicles, ash-filled homes and seared grass.
Several wildfires merged to form a complex that continued to burn Saturday near Eastland, about 120 miles west of Dallas. Gov. Greg Abbott declared a disaster in the 11 counties hit hardest by the wildfires that were fueled by several months of dry weather and high winds.
The Eastland County Sheriff’s Office said the fire killed Deputy Sgt. Barbara Fenley, who was going door to door, getting residents to evacuate their homes Thursday.
“With the extreme deteriorating conditions and low visibility from smoke, Sgt. Fenley ran off the roadway and was engulfed in the fire,” the sheriff’s statement said.
With winds expected to diminish Saturday, fire crews hoped to make progress against the flames, said Angel Lopez, a spokesman for the task force combatting the fire. But with wind gusts expected to return Sunday, the threat of wildfires in western and central Texas may again rise to critical levels, Lopez said.
Smaller fires burned in other parts of Texas amid the low humidity and high winds.
About 15% of the Eastland Complex fires were contained as of Saturday morning, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. More than 45,000 acres have burned, officials said during a Friday news conference.
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Photos from the USA TODAY Network show the destruction:
Contributing: The Associated Press; Brian Bethel, Abilene Reporter-News
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