Texas Drought Causes Fire, Destroys Hundreds of Homes

Austin firefighters are battling strong winds in Texas as they struggled to gain ground against a fast-moving fire that has scorched some 25,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Another fire in eastern Texas killed a mother and her 18-month-old child when flames engulfed their mobile home Sunday near Gladewater, the Gregg County Sheriff’s Department said.

Dozens of fires are burning across the parched state, the Texas Forest Service said Monday. The state is battling its worst season in state history.

A record 3.5 million acres — an area roughly the size of Connecticut — have burned since the start of the fire season in November as hot and dry weather, coupled with a historic drought, made conditions ripe for rapid-fire growth.

“It’s a very serious, scary situation,” said Jan Amen, a Texas Forest Service spokeswoman. “The drought has gone on so long — it’s just bone dry. Anything that catches fire takes off.”

“We got a long way to go to get this thing contained,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said about the fire raging near Austin. “I have seen a number of big fires in my life. This one is as mean looking as I’ve ever seen.”

Gov. Perry, who returns to Texas Earlier Monday, issued a statement in which he called the fire situation “severe” and said that all state resources were being made available to protect lives and property.