ELECTRA, Texas – High winds and bone-dry conditions fueled numerous wildfires across much of North and West Texas on Thursday, forcing several cities and schools to evacuate.
No injuries were immediately reported in any of the blazes that raced across parched fields as firefighters and some frantic homeowners used tractors, bulldozers and hoses to try to stop the high orange flames. Winds as high as 60 mph in most areas kept firefighting helicopters and planes grounded.
Firefighters were battling a 100-acre fire at Lake Mineral Wells State Park in Parker County, just west of Fort Worth, that had consumed one home by Thursday afternoon, said county spokesman Joel Kertok.
"We're trying to get it under control before it leaves the park," he said.
By the afternoon, another 100-acre blaze in four Hudson Oaks subdivisions was 90 percent contained, and residents who earlier had been evacuated were being allowed to return home, Kertok said. Four structures were lost in that fire, he said.
On Thursday afternoon the Young County Sheriff's Department northeast of Fort Worth reported that three large fires were spreading in the county — near Post Oak, Bryson and Graham — and urged residents in those areas to evacuate.
Firefighters in nearby Jack County also were working to control the wildfires in Post Oak and Bryson and had earlier ordered evacuations.
More than 93 percent of Texas was in some stage of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, firefighters began to battle an 8,000-acre wildfire in Wilbarger County that ignited several businesses just west of Electra, about 125 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas Forest Service spokesman Bill Beebe said.
In Montague County, an elementary school in Bowie was evacuated as up to 10 fires raged throughout the area about 65 miles northwest of Fort Worth, County Judge Ted Winn said.
On Thursday afternoon, Montague County emergency management officials reported that residents in Saint Jo were being evacuated to the nearby town of Muenster.
In West Texas in Callahan County, officials ordered students at an intermediate school and a high school in Clyde to evacuate for about two hours, a sheriff's department dispatcher said. Clyde is about 20 miles southwest of Abilene.
Fires also were burning in parts of Palo Pinto, Hood and Young counties, Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney said.