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Massive Wildfire in Texas Destroys About 1,400 Homes

A pier foundation and pool are among the remains of a home destroyed when a wildfire swept through Bastrop, Texas, September 6, 2011.

A wildfire ravaging part of the south central U.S. state of Texas is now being blamed for destroying nearly 1,400 homes.

Officials say the fire, near the state capital of Austin, is the most destructive of the more than 180 fires that have erupted across Texas in the past week. It is also being blamed for two deaths and has forced about 5,000 people to flee the area.

Firefighters make progress

The latest information on the wildfire's destructive impact comes just a day after firefighters said they were finally gaining ground in their efforts to contain the blaze.

Authorities said Wednesday that they had the fire 30 percent contained, helped in part by lighter winds now that Tropical Storm Lee has moved out of the area.

Drought spawns destructive fires

The entire state is suffering through a nearly year-long drought that has made many areas dangerously hot and dry - the perfect conditions for wildfires.

Officials say, in all, more than 54,650 hectares of land have been burned.

President Barack Obama has approved seven federal grants to Texas authorities to help with the firefighting efforts.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.