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September 6, 2011
Wildfire destroys nearly 500 homes in Texas
BASTROP, Texas (AP) -- A roaring wildfire raced through rain-starved farm and ranchland in Central Texas on Monday, destroying nearly 500 homes during a rapid advance that was fanned in part by howling winds from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.
At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes in Bastrop County about 25 miles east of Austin, and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said.
Strong winds and drought conditions allowed the fire to travel quickly over somewhat hilly terrain, burning through pine and cedar trees and wiping out subdivisions as well as ranchland. The blaze consumed as much as 25,000 acres along a line that stretched for about 16 miles, Texas Forest Service officials said.
The new outbreak led Gov. Rick Perry to return home to Texas, cutting short a visit to South Carolina where he was campaigning for the Republican nomination for president. He also canceled a trip to California.
Since December, wildfires in Texas have claimed 3.5 million acres, an area the size of Connecticut, Perry said. The fires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, he said. (46 images)



A helicopter drops water onto a blaze in Cedar Park, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Thomas Allison / The Daily Texan


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A series of large wildfires as seen heading east approaching Bastrop, Texas on Highway 71 Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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Brian Covish, waves to fire bombers from the roof of his home on Cedar Lane in the Blue Bonnet Acres subdivision west of Bastrop, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Rodolfo Gonzalez / Austin American-Statesman



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Firefighters from around the state battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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Firefighters from around the state battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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A large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011 burns piles of lumber and ranch posts. Erich Schlegel / AP



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Firefighters from around the state battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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Firefighters from Smithville Fire Department battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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Firefighters from around the state battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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A large wildfire burns along Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas as a bulldozer from the Texas Forest Service rumbles by Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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A fire rages near Highway 71 east of Bastrop, Texas, on Monday Sept. 5, 2011. Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman



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Smoke can be seen from a 300-acre wildfire in Magnolia, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Nearly 8,000 residents were evacuated from the area. Karl Anderson / The Courier



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A Maud, Texas firefighter closes his eyes to avoid being hit by fire debris while fighting a 7,000 acre fire in southern Cass County, Texas Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Christena Dowsett / Texarkana Gazette



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A resident carries a shovel to pat down smolders while fighting a 7,000 acre fire in southern Cass County, Texas Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Christena Dowsett / Texarkana Gazette



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A member of the Cushing V.F.D. fights a brush fire that started when a car caught fire Monday, Sept. 5, 2011 in Nacogdoches, Texas. Dustin Anderson / The Daily Sentinel



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Aldine firefighters battle a 300-acre wildfire on FM 1774 near FM 1486 in Magnolia, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Nearly 8,000 residents were evacuated from the area. Karl Anderson / The Courier



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An Aldine firefighter battles a 300-acre wildfire on FM 1774 near FM 1486 in Magnolia, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Nearly 8,000 residents were evacuated from the area. Karl Anderson / The Courier



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Firefighters from around the state battle a large wildfire on Highway 71 near Smithville, Texas, Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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Home owner, Dennis Kleiber, left, uses a chainsaw to cut a hole in his floor to get to smoldering wood as Brian Schultz uses a bucket of water to put out embers from the fire on Cedar Lane in the Blue Bonnet Acres subdivision west of Bastrop, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Rodolfo Gonzalez / Austin American-Statesman



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Angel Malagor, left, and Mike Moreno, right, use buckets to pull water from a cattle pond to haul towards hot spots along Cedar Lane in the Blue Bonnet Acres subdivision west of Bastrop, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Rodolfo Gonzalez / Austin American-Statesman



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Ryan Joseph Terranova packs up his belongings moments before evacuating his home in Bastrop, Texas, as a huge fire approaches on Monday Sept. 5, 2011. Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman



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A man, uses a shovel to extinguish flames Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, near Lilbert, Texas. Andrew D. Brosig / The Daily Sentinel



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A helicopter is used to drop water on a wildfire, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, near Bastrop, Texas. Eric Gay / AP



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Residence watch from the intersection of FM 1488 and FM 1774 as smoke from a 300-acre wildfire burns in Magnolia, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Karl Anderson / The Courier



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A large plume of smoke rises from a wildfire at onlookers watch from a hill, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, in Bastrop, Texas. Eric Gay / AP



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A plane flies through smoke billowing from a large wildfire in Cedar Park,Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Thomas Allison / The Daily Texan



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Bastrop, Texas County resident John Raworth and his two dogs watch as a wildfire jumps the street in their central Texas neighborhood on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Trent Lesikar / The Daily Texan



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A firefighting helicopter is dwarfed by massive plumes of smoke in Bastrop, Texas, on Monday Sept. 5, 2011. Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman



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Embers and small flames on tree roots glow with heat in a wooded area off of County Road 320 in Anderson County, Texas, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. The fire in the area near Frankston originally began Thursday and rekindled Saturday morning. Winds have caused many fires to spread and rekindle in the East Texas area. Sarah A. Miller / Tyler Morning Telegraph



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Remnants of a burned out home off Highway 71 near Bastrop, Texas as a series of large wildfires continue to burn Monday, Sep. 5, 2011. Erich Schlegel / AP



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J Cindy Cruz wipes tears from her eyes as Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks with her at Bastrop Middle School in Bastrop, Texas, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Alberto MartAnez / Austin American-Statesman



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Amanda Stark drops to her knees and prays for her home to be saved as Texas Forest Service' Assistant Chief, Mary Martinez, left, Marc Calderon, and Jose Audelo, evacuate the Blue Bonnet Acres subdivision west of Bastrop, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Rodolfo Gonzalez / Austin American-Statesman



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Marsha Moore, left, is comforted by a friend as she keeps an eye on the fire near her home, near Linden, Texas, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Christena Dowsett / Texarkana Gazette



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Linden, Texas resident Sierra Young takes pictures from Highway 59 of a 7,000 acre fire spreading across southern Cass County, Texas, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Christena Dowsett / Texarkana Gazette



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Jack Novak, in red, head pastor with The Grove church, leads a prayer outside Magnolia High School where residents evacuated from their homes near a 300-acre wild fire gathered Monday, Sept. 5, 2011 in Magnolia, Texas. Nearly 8,000 residents were evacuated from their homes. Eric S. Swist / The Courier



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Students from a local 4-H group drop off bottled water for firefighers and displaced residents at Magnolia High School where residents evacuated from their homes near a 300-acre wild fire gathered Monday, Sept. 5, 2011 in Magnolia, Texas. Eric S. Swist / The Courier



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Patricia Bloodworth-Neville sobs inside the Bluebonnet Volunteer Fire Station in Bastrop County, Texas on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Trent Lesikar / The Daily Texan



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Evacuated residents gathered for information about the fire and news about their homes, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, during a wildfire at Steiner Ranch west of Austin, Texas. Ricardo B. Brazziell / Austin American-Statesman



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A plane drops fire retardant on a house on Mauna Kea Lane in the Tahitian Village neighborhood in Bastrop, Texas, on Monday Sept. 5, 2011. A house on the street was burned to the ground. Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman



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This aerial photo shows a golf course alongside fire-scorched homes and forest, near Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. Texas Forest Service spokesman John Nichols told The Associated Press that 39 homes have been destroyed by the blaze, which has blackened at least 6,200 acres since Tuesday. Ian McVea / Fort Worth Star-Telegram



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This aerial photo shows charred land, near Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. Ian McVea / Fort Worth Star-Telegram



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A wildfire roars through dry trees near Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. LM Otero / AP



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A helicopter returns to the lake to refill it's tank for a water drop on fires Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 near Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. Ron Jenkins / Fort Worth Star-Telegram



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An air tanker drops fire retardant on a fire in The Cliffs development Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 near Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. Ron Jenkins / Fort Worth Star-Telegram



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In this photo made Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, a brush fire truck drives in an area destroyed by a wildfire at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. LM Otero / AP



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In this photo made Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer looks over an area destroyed by a wildfire at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. LM Otero / AP



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