Official: 225 homes destroyed in Texas wildfire

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Associated Press

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 2:04 PM

FRITCH, Texas (AP) — Authorities on Thursday said that 225 homes were destroyed by a fast-moving wildfire in the Texas Panhandle earlier this week, a figure that's more than double initial estimates.

Officials had previously said some 89 homes were leveled by the fire that began Sunday.

Texas A&M Forest Service spokesman Troy Duchneaux said the earlier estimate was based on aerial surveys and that the number rose once firefighters were able to enter the fire area in Fritch on foot beginning Wednesday. More than 140 outbuildings, such as well houses and sheds, were destroyed, he said.

The fire was 90 percent contained Thursday. Its cause is still under investigation.

Just more than 240 homes were saved by firefighters, Duchneaux said.

Officials are attributing the death of one person to the fire — a man who suffered a heart attack. Flames forced the evacuation of about 2,100 people from a 4-square-mile area around Lake Meredith.

Authorities on Wednesday allowed residents to return to what remained of their homes. The wildfire burned along and south of the lake.

A day earlier, residents who needed to retrieve medications and important health documents were escorted to their homes by sheriff's deputies.

The Panhandle wildfire was the first large one this year in the region, which is in the most severe stage of drought after months of well-below rainfall totals. Earlier this year, officials warned wildfires could be worse in the area than in other parts of the state.

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