Deadly Wildfires Devour Homes Across Texas

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High winds and the state's longest drought are fueling wildfires all over Texas Tuesday, taking the lives of at least two people and destroying more than 1,000 homes.

The fire swept through subdivisions and ranches in a 25,000-acre swath, the Texas Forest Service reported.

"You have to be optimistic and at the same time prepared for the worst," Texas Forest Service spokesman John Nichols said Monday night.

The Bastrop fire east of Austin is currently the state's largest and most dangerous, forcing some 5,000 people from their homes.      

"This fire is not over; it's not contained at this time.  And it's probably going to get worse before it gets better." Bastrop County Judge Ronny McDonald said.

Two hundred and fifty firefighters fought the blaze with pumper trucks and bulldozers, while 40 Texas Forest Service aircraft dumped water on the roaring fire. Six Texas military aircraft also loaned their support.

At least five shelters have been opened to help the thousands of evacuated homeowners.

"Waiting is the most frustrating thing," a tearful Gina Thurman, 47, told the Associated Press. She struggled to gain her composure as she alone on a curb outside Ascension Catholic Church, one of several shelters in the area.

"You could hear those houses as the roofs collapsed," recalled evacuee Steven Crane.

"You're sitting there and you don't know anything but your house is probably burning," she said.

In the northern part, nine separate fires have burned more than 2,000 acres. The smoke is so thick, authorities are closing roads.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is on the presidential campaign trail, canceled an appearance at a South Carolina candidates forum in order to get back to his state.

"I'm not paying any attention to politics right now," he said. "There's plenty of time to take care of that.  People's lives and their possessions are in danger. That's substantially more important."

Firefighters are mobilizing ground and air forces to fight at least 63 fires statewide.  Fire investigators are looking into if some of the fires have been intentionally set. 

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Mark Martin

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.