At least 21 homes destroyed by Texas wildfires

A pair of two-day-old North Texas wildfires continued to resist containment Wednesday after destroying 21 homes, officials said.

The Chalk Mountain Fire near Glen Rose, Texas, destroyed 16 homes and damaged five others as it remained on the move Wednesday after scorching almost 10 square miles (26 square kilometers) of mostly short grass, brush and juniper as of midday Wednesday, said Alexandra Schwier, a Texas A&M Forest Service spokeswoman. The fire about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Fort Worth was 10% contained Wednesday with embers from burning tree crowns flying up to 200 yards (183 meters).

The fire at Possum Kingdom Lake destroyed five homes as it spread along its western shore, charring 500 (200 hectares) acres about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Fort Worth. That fire was 15% contained Wednesday, the Forest Service said.

Temperatures approaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), combined with a relative humidity near 20% and 10-mph (16-kph) winds gusting to 20 mph (32kph), resisted efforts to contain the fiery spread beyond 10% containment, the Forest Service said.

“In these fuels, resistance to control is often high and makes suppression efforts challenging for firefighters,” said Luke Kanclerz, a Forest Service fire analyst, in a statement.

Ninety firefighters worked around the clock on the Chalk Mountain Fire, focusing on protecting structures and digging a containment line around the fire’s northeastern leading edge. A no-fly zone was declared for the area as air tankers operated overhead. Airdrops of fire retardant began Wednesday morning with a special DC-10 called a Very Large Air Tanker and a C-130 transport and MD-87 jet called Large Air Tankers dropping 60,000 gallons of retardant near that leading edge by midafternoon, Schwier said.

The fire extended into Hood County from neighboring Somervell County, where County Judge Danny Chambers said all 16 destroyed and five damaged homes were located. Chambers had issued a disaster declaration because of the possibility of evacuations and said most residents of the county’s rural northwestern quadrant heeded a voluntary evacuation notice given for the county’s rural northwestern quadrant.

No injuries were reported from that fire.

Crews were also fighting the Possum Kingdom Lake fire around the clock by air and on the ground. Fire crews used bulldozers to dig containment lines around the fire’s leading edge, the Forest Service said. Two crew members were treated for minor heat injuries and returned to service.

The Forest Service said that 99% of the state was experiencing some level of drought Wednesday.

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