Governor Perry Seeks Federal Aid for Drought-Stricken Texas

April 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oak Hill Fire

The loss of one firefighter, 220 homes, and an estimated 1.5 million acres of black, charred land has Texas Governor Rick Perry seeking federal aid for his drought-stricken state. Reuters reported that Perry sent President Obama a letter Sunday, which requested a federal disaster declaration for the entire state.

While violent storms and tornadoes swept across the southeast this weekend, wildfires continue to consume thousands of acres of dry grass and farmland all over rural West Texas–15,000 acres have burned in the last three days. The fires have forced ranchers to relocate their cattle to safer pastures. A blaze destroyed about 30 homes and left a thick gray haze across the sky as it burned about 20,000 acres around Possum Kingdom Lake, 120 miles west of Dallas, on Friday. A fire started at a homeless camp threatened an Austin area community Sunday, forcing residents to evacuate their homes for a night. The coal fire was left unattended, sparking a wildfire that ravaged a section of Oak Hill and destroyed several homes, officials said today.

Here is a video of the Austin fire, posted on Twitter by @travismaclay. It was shot from his house in Oak Hill:

http://www.twitvid.com/BJ0UZ

Right now Texas is experiencing its driest conditions since 1917. Dry weather combined with the infamous Texas wind makes a perfect breeding ground for wildfires.

“We’ve had 19 consecutive days of just super-dry weather, relative humidities in the single digits,” said Forest Service spokeswoman C.J. Norvell told CNN.

“What we’re seeing right now is winds that are typical of spring, but everything else is typical of late summer — no rain, vegetation that’s just super dry. When you combine those two, it really has not boded well.”

Dry conditions are expected to continue. The Weather Channel forecasts a few spots around the state will top 100 degrees this week. Protecting your home from wildfires is as easy as doing a little outside spring cleaning. The Texas Forest Service gave KXAN tips on protecting your house from wildfires. it is important to build “defensible space” around your structure. Make a clean, green area 30 feet from your house, and make sure there is a non-combustible area within five feet of the house.

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