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Wildfires in Texas force Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a disaster declaration

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued Friday a disaster declaration for 11 counties threatened by massive wildfire that has burned down dozens of homes and killed a sheriff’s deputy.

Multiple blazes that have been burning about 100 miles west of Fort Worth since Thursday grew and combined into a 70-square-mile behemoth now called the Eastland Complex Fire, the Texas A&M Forest Service said.

At least 50 homes were destroyed in surrounding communities and nearly 500 others evacuated as wind-fueled flames eroded thousands of acres of extremely dry grass.

The inferno is so big now that its smoke cast a haze over the city of Houston, 200 miles away, on Friday.

Video of what appeared to be a fire tornado was shared by the Texas A&M Forest Service battling the inferno. Efforts to douse the blazes were made worse by what the agency described as “extreme fire behavior.”

Eastland County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Deputy Barbara Fenley, who had been with the department since 2013, died in the blaze Thursday as she was moving residents out of harm’s way.

Sergeant Deputy Barbara Fenley was killed in the wildfire.
Sergeant Deputy Barbara Fenley was killed in the wildfire.
Eastland Sheriff’s Office

“While she was evacuating people and going door to door, Fenley was last heard saying she was checking on an elderly person,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “Given the extremely deteriorating conditions and poor visibility through smoke, Sgt. Fenley ran off the roadway and was caught in the fire.”

The 51-year-old leaves behind a husband and three children, according to police.

Smoke from the Eastland Complex Fire drifted about 200 miles southeast toward Houston, blanketing the nation’s fourth-largest city in a fetid haze. This prompted the City officials advise local residents that there was no immediate danger but to restrict outdoor activities.

The possibility of more scorched earth and evacuations will remain in the coming days. Housing for evacuated Texans are open in the affected communities.

Efforts to put out the fire were reported to be making it worse, which the agency called out "extreme fire behavior."
Efforts to put out the fire were reported to be aggravating what the agency described as “extreme fire behavior.”
Texas A&M Forest Service/Twitter
A fallen tree, blackened soil and melted plastic flowers fall on graves after the March 18, 2022 wildfire.
A fallen tree, blackened soil and melted plastic flowers fall on graves after the March 18, 2022 wildfire.
Ronald W. Erdrich/Reporter News

https://nypost.com/2022/03/19/texas-wildfire-force-gov-greg-abbott-to-issue-disaster-declaration/ Wildfires in Texas force Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a disaster declaration

JACLYN DIAZ

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