Wildfires in Central Texas have been raging out of control since Sunday, reaching a fever pitch since wildfire season began last November. After a nearly 300 day battle, 1,000 homes have been destroyed along with four lives lost. According to the LA Times, current forecasts show that “dry conditions will persist for days,” so Texas Forest Service officials are “requesting 300 to 400 additional firefighters from outside agencies” in order to battle the blaze. Flames in Bastrop, TX have burned more than 33,000 acres since Sunday and “leaped through the tops of trees 40 feet high.” In the last week, 120,000 acres have been lost to Texas wildfires, CNN reports, and 3.5 million acres have burned in Texas since the beginning of the year.
As of 7:40 this morning, the fire in Bastrop is now 30 percent contained, per local officials. Of the four people killed in the fire, a 20-year-old mother and her 18-month-old child died Sunday “when their mobile home was consumed by flames,” according to the LA Times. CNN says “the Texas Forest Service said it has responded to 181 fires over the last week.”
One fire in the Austin suburb of Leander is being treated as arson, and police are searching for three teenagers who are believed to have started the blaze. This morning, Texas governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry deployed Texas Task Force 1, the state’s elite search team, to look for victims, MSNBC reports. The LA Times notes that “Perry and other Republican lawmakers have recently argued that federal disaster relief — such as aid for states hit by tornadoes and hurricanes — must be offset by federal spending cuts, but they have yet to make that argument in fire-ravaged Texas. The state recently cut funding for volunteer fire departments by 75% as a cost-saving measure.”