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Texas Panhandle wildfire destroys about 75 homes

FRITCH, Texas (AP) - A wildfire that set a mobile home community in the Texas Panhandle ablaze was mostly contained Monday although some areas continued to smolder, emergency officials said.

Hundreds of people around Lake Meredith, between the towns of Sanford and Fritch, evacuated their homes Sunday afternoon as firefighters battled flames and thick plumes of smoke across two miles of dry, dusty plains. Some moved to an ad hoc shelter in a high school gymnasium, others to the sanctuary of a local church serving the rural communities some 30 miles northeast of Amarillo.

The fire was about 80 percent contained by midday Monday with the aid of humidity from storm systems in the area, according to Jason Wright, Hutchinson County's assistant emergency management coordinator.

"We still have some structures that are smoldering but we don't have an active fire," Wright said.

Still, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Chris Ray said 30 mph winds continued to pose a threat to the lake community's 2,100 residents.

"The wind is stirring up the dirt, smoke and soot, so there are visibility issues along with battling the fire," Ray said.

The wildfire could have been started by a burning shed, Wright said.

The Panhandle chapter of the Red Cross concentrated about 130 evacuees in the Sanford-Fritch High School gym. Red Cross coordinator Steve Pair said about 200 people checked into the shelter last night, and evacuees have been in and out throughout the day.

It is the first wildfire in the area since February 2011 during one of the worst droughts in Texas history. Twelve people were killed in a March 2006 wildfire that burned nearly 1 million acres.

Some 25 fire departments in a 165-mile radius responded to the most recent fire.

"We had so many people respond to it right away that we were able to get a better hold of it," Wright said.

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bigred8690 May 12 2014 at 3:04 PM

Maybe the fire was set by the same woman from Florida who bulldozed her neighbor's mobile home.

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1 reply
hanlon1212 bigred8690 May 12 2014 at 3:55 PM

Here in Floriduh similar nonsense happens every day .

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ukelaine May 12 2014 at 11:41 PM

I am so sorry to the People of Texas for the loss of all the homes and so many of their memories.
Best wishes to all from California

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dnkdltn May 12 2014 at 5:18 PM

Does poor land management cause the dry dusty plains situations??

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1 reply
Carol dnkdltn May 13 2014 at 9:52 AM

How about a drought that has been going on for a couple of years? I suppose you are also telling the folks in the California drought it is because of "poor" land management.

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Larry May 12 2014 at 4:49 PM

There's a lot of mean people who are happy to see bad things happen to anyone they might believe is a Republican. How would they feel if Pubs denigrated the urban poor (the Dem voting block) when a disaster happens to them?

Oh, I know it doesn't happen; only the "compassionate libs" do it.

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1 reply
pwood35009 Larry May 12 2014 at 5:29 PM

I guess all the conservative preachers who claimed Katrina was God's wrath don't count?

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1 reply
Carol pwood35009 May 13 2014 at 9:55 AM

You are some kind of ***. People are hurting and liberals turn it political.

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Larry May 12 2014 at 4:47 PM

I knew about mobile homes being tornado magnets, but wildfires?

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2 replies
onionson Larry May 12 2014 at 5:13 PM

Mobil homes are not magnets any more than a rock is. They are easier targets to destroy. Tornados and fires are not attracted to them, they "stumble across" them silly boy.

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DARLING ANN Larry May 12 2014 at 6:29 PM


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kcarthey May 12 2014 at 3:58 PM

Texans believe that they have a basic Constitutional freedom to burn brush on their property no matter what the weather or fire conditions are like. I lived in that state for decade and have seen this and know it to be true.

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4 replies
hanlon1212 May 12 2014 at 3:54 PM

Best wishes to all involved -- GOD bless !

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jteddie2dogs May 12 2014 at 3:24 PM

I pray everyone affected is OK and that thanks to the quick reaction of the fire departments there no one was killed. Texas is a great state to live in which I usto to live in Borger and can relate the devistation there. My prayers are with all of you affected.

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1 reply
Cath's jteddie2dogs May 13 2014 at 6:20 AM

I disagree. Texans have a 'me first' and 'I can do whatever I want' mentality. Laws mean little or nothing to many of them. Drought and high plains winds should be enough to alert them to hazardous fire constions, but it doesn't. No common sense.

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1 reply
Carol Cath's May 13 2014 at 10:06 AM

You are right, you have no common sense. IF you could read, you would know that it is believed that this fire started due to a burning building. IF you knew ANYTHING you would know that there are burn bans all over the state that prevents people from using campfires, controlled burns, any open flames. BBQs are about the only thing that can be used, and there are restrictions on those. IF you are going to post, do you homework. Otherwise, you come off like you have today. A complete blithering idiot.

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john.dean54 May 12 2014 at 3:18 PM

No climate change here.

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honeyrose3332 May 12 2014 at 5:37 PM

In these very dry conditions this could be caused by someone throwing out a lit cigarette.

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