STONEHAM, Texas -- Dozens of homes were destroyed and hundreds of people evacuated as firefighters across Texas worked Monday to contain wildfires fed by triple-digit temperatures, high winds and drought.
We re trying to hold the lines, Lexi Maxwell, a Texas Forest Service spokeswoman, said outside a staging area in Stoneham in Grimes County, where at least 4,000 acres were torched in a blaze that began Sunday. If we lose that, we could have additional evacuations.
A cloud of smoke rose over a tree line behind her and the smell of burning wood and brush was evident.
She said the blaze, believed to have started in a barbecue pit, was about 25 percent contained and some 35 homes and 20 outbuildings had been consumed. The fire is about 50 miles north of Houston and one of at least 12 new fires that broke out over the weekend.
Texas Forest Service crews were at 20 fires Monday around Texas, where all but 30 of the state s 254 counties had outdoor burn bans in place.
Tens of thousands of acres had been consumed, adding to the more than 3 million acres burned since the state s fire season began in November.
Karen and Johney Redman, went out for Father s Day dinner on Sunday only to find they couldn t return to their place at the end of a dead-end road in Grimes County. Johney Redman said they could see the flames over the trees.
We left all of our animals, our donkeys, our 13 schnauzers, Karen Redman said, sitting in her van outside a tent set up for evacuees. We re just wanting to find out if they re OK.
The couple moved to the area about 50 miles north of Houston after their home in Spring was destroyed by Hurricane Ike three years ago.
There s a lot of folks worse than we are, Johney Redman said. All I know is the good Lord said he wouldn t put more on us than we could bear.
About 300 residents of northern Jasper County evacuated their homes Sunday after a wildfire blamed on hunters broke out in the area, said Billy Ted Smith, emergency management coordinator for Jasper, Newton and Sabine counties. The residents could be allowed to return to their homes later Monday, Smith said.
The fire was about 30 percent contained Monday and we ll focus on trying to do some more containment on it, Smith said.
Eight camp houses have been destroyed in the 3,500-acre fire that began Saturday.
It was caused by some local hunters target practicing, shooting old butane tanks for target practice, Smith said. When they hit it, it would cause sparks, and those sparks evidently caused the fire.
No injuries have been reported, he said. A park road in Jasper County, between Sam Rayburn Reservoir and the Toledo Bend Dam, was closed Monday, Smith said.
While parts of Interstates 35 and 45 were closed Sunday due to wildfires, the Texas Department of Transportation said all major highways were open Monday.