Last SE Texas wildfire evacuation order lifted

Last SE Texas wildfire evacuation order lifted

Last SE Texas wildfire evacuation order lifted

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by Associated Press

khou.com

Posted on June 23, 2011 at 10:38 PM

PLANTERSVILLE, Texas  -- Federal and local officials on Thursday lifted the last of the evacuation orders issued during the fight against the most-destructive wildfire in Southeast Texas.

The decision came as a wildfire in Grimes County, about 60 miles northwest of Houston, was declared 95 percent contained Thursday afternoon after scorching almost 5,300 acres and destroying dozens of homes, according to the Texas Forest Service.

Grimes County Judge Betty Shifflett still urged residents returning to the evacuation zone near the community of Stoneham to use caution and stay vigilant for any suddenly developing fire hazards.

The American Red Cross and other agencies will be available Saturday morning at Navasota High School to meet with residents left in need by the fire.

The fire destroyed more than 70 homes and other buildings, said Jason Curry, spokesman for the federal incident management team coordinating East Texas firefighting efforts. Two people have been reported injured in the blaze.

More than 2 inches of rain fell on the county Wednesday, providing a big assist to the firefighting crews. Nonetheless, all but 26 of the state’s 254 counties remained under burn bans Thursday due to an enduring drought that has left much of Texas tinder dry.

A blaze in Trinity and Polk counties that has burned more than 20,222 acres and two homes was 80 percent contained. It was sparked last weekend when the heat from a trailer bearing ignited some dry brush.

No new fires of significance were reported Wednesday, but the Texas Forest Service continued to battle 17 large fires that have consumed more than 145,000 acres.

About 2,000 residents have been forced from their homes since the fires began, but officials began to allow some residents to return as conditions improved, thanks to the rain and the firefighting efforts.

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