Firefighters make some progress against Texas’ largest blaze

Posted Sept. 01, 2011, at 7:21 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 02, 2011, at 10:31 a.m.

North Texas fire officials were hopeful Thursday that cool weather and calm winds forecast over the weekend will help firefighters quell the largest of the state’s several wildfires, a blaze that has destroyed at least 39 homes this week.

The fire — fueled by strong winds and the relentlessly high temperatures in the drought-stricken state — has charred more than 6,200 acres in Palo Pinto County, forcing hundreds of evacuations and threatening as many as 400 homes since it began Tuesday.

Firefighters made some progress Thursday when the fire burned into flatter ground and became easier to contain, said John Nichols, a spokesman for the multiagency effort fighting the blaze, known as the 101 Ranch fire. The fire — burning near Possum Kingdom Lake, about 75 miles west of Fort Worth, where a fire last spring destroyed more than 160 homes — was 50 percent contained.

Across the state, firefighters were battling 14 wildfires that have burned nearly 20,900 acres, said April Saginor, a spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service.

Since January, more than 18,000 wildfires have broken out across Texas, charring about 3.4 million acres and destroying 660 homes.

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