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Texas wildfire in Bastrop County the worst ever single fire in the state

September 5, 2011 | 11:10 pm

Bastrop 
A relentless Texas wildfire in Bastrop County east of Austin destroyed 476 homes and has set a somber state record: The highest number of homes lost in a single fire in Texas history.

Ironically, the winds generated by Tropical Storm Lee--that flooded parts of the Gulf Coast over the weekend--fanned the Bastrop fire Sunday and Monday. Even though weather forecasters predict winds will die down some on Tuesday, fire authorities said the blaze has "extreme" growth potential.

About 5,000 were evacuated, but most homeowners have been unable to survey their property and the number of lost homes is still being calculated, according to the Statesman newspaper in Austin. 

Texas is searing under high temperatures and severe drought conditions. At least 63 wildfires were burning in the state over the weekend. Fire statistics, assembled by InciWeb, an information clearinghouse, describe the magnitude of the ongoing  emergency:

  • Acres burned in Texas in  2011: 3.5 million
  • Proportion of total national fires in 2011 that have occurred in Texas: 34 percent
  • Six of the 10 largest wildfires in Texas history occurred in 2011.
  • Homes and other structures lost since Nov. 15, 2010: 45,359

"It almost feels like the whole state is burning," said Gary Bonnette, whose home was destroyed. 

ALSO:

Texas wildfires destroy about 500 homes

Hurricane Katia strengthens to Category 4

Gov. Rick Perry pulls out of N.C. forum becasue of Texas fires

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Stephanie Chavez

Photo:The chimney of a house remains standing as the rest of the building burns to the ground near Bastrop, Texas. Credit: Reuters

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