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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More