News / USA

    Worst Fires on Record Ravage Texas

    Blackened forest is left behind as large wildfire burns near  Magnolia, Texas.  More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze near Austin that is still raging out of con
    Blackened forest is left behind as large wildfire burns near Magnolia, Texas. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze near Austin that is still raging out of con

    Wildfires in Texas have burned hundreds of homes and thousands of hectares of fields and forests in recent days in what government officials say is the worst fire season on record for that southwestern U.S. state.

    Main roads around Magnolia are closed as firefighters continue to battle blazes in the dry brush and heavily forested areas.

    Everything lost

    Residents who left everything behind watch the smoke rising and wonder what is left.

    Justin Allen is one of them. “When we left there last night, everything was in flames; we saw houses on fire.  So we don't know, we are just waiting to see,” he said.

    It might be a long wait because fires keep flaring up in different places, according to Montgomery County Sheriff's Department Captain Rand Henderson. “They have been pretty good during the course of the night because the wind had died down," he explained.  "It is starting to pick up some, moving from the east to the west, so we are having some flare-up issues.”

    Joel Hambright of the Texas Forestry Service says these are the worst fires he has seen in 17 years on the job. “This has been a year we will never forget, I think.  We are losing houses all over the place, so I just urge people to do some mitigation work and clear some of the fuel from around their houses, so this does not happen,” he said.

    Texas already was in danger because of a record-breaking drought.  Tropical Storm Lee, which caused flooding in neighboring Louisiana, brought almost no rain to Texas, but produced high winds to fan the flames.

    Dennis Burford was in Louisiana when he heard about the fire that threatened his home here in Texas. “All the creeks were swollen real good and all the bayous were swollen real good -- a lot of water.  But we sure need that here,” he said.

    Red Cross shelter for people, pets

    Burford and many of his neighbors came to a local high school, which is being used by the Red Cross as a shelter.

    Jessica Debalski is the Red Cross Field Services Manager for the Houston area.  “Last night we had about 80 people that spent the night, and then today we have had several more that have signed in to get more information and then wait here until the evacuation order has been lifted,” she stated.

    It is a tough time for those who have been displaced, but Debalski says her crew is doing what it can for them.

    “There is a lot of stress here," Debalski noted. "But we do have mental health specialists that are talking to people and we have kept everyone calm and well fed with lots of great snacks that have been donated by the community.  And we are just kind of waiting for more information.”

    One thing that helps is that evacuees are able to bring their pets and keep them in an outdoor area set up for animals.

    Michelle Johnson even brought some feathered friends. "I have two cats, a dog and two chickens, a rooster and a chicken.  And I grabbed them and got out or they would have died,” she explained.

    She may not have a house to return to, but Johnson says that at least she will have fresh eggs for breakfast.

    This is only one of several places in central and east Texas where wildfires are raging.  The winds have died down, but what is needed is rain and none is forecast for the next week. 

    You May Like

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.