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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid