1,000 Texas Homes Burned and Fire Department Funding Cut 75% this Year
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze near Austin that is still raging out of control, officials said Tuesday.
Gov. Rick Perry, who cut short a presidential campaign trip to South Carolina on Monday to return to help oversee firefighting efforts in Texas, toured a blackened area near Bastrop, about 25 miles from Austin, where a fast-moving blaze destroyed nearly 600 homes on Monday.
At a news conference afterward, he marveled at the destruction and pointing out that more than 100,000 acres in the drought-stricken state had burned over the past week, and that more than 3.5 million acres — an area roughly the size of Connecticut — had burned since December.
“Pretty powerful visuals of individuals who lost everything,” Perry said. “The magnitude of these losses are pretty stunning.”
Some residents said they were surprised by how quickly the blaze engulfed their neighborhoods.
“We were watching TV and my brother-in-law said to come and see this,” Dave Wilhelm, 38, who lives just east of Bastrop said. “All I saw was a fireball and some smoke. All of a sudden: Boom! We looked up and left.”
Wilhelm returned Tuesday to find his neighbor’s house and three vehicles gone, some of his own children’s backyard toys destroyed but their house spared.
“Some stuff is smoldering on the lot behind us. Inside of the house, we smell like a campfire. We’re definitely very lucky.”
The fire had scorched some 30,000 acres by Tuesday, and the Texas Forest Service said crews were still trying to contain it. State emergency management chief Nim Kidd said that the fire was the most destructive fire of the year in Texas, and that the number of homes destroyed will likely go up, once the hardest-hit areas are assessed.
The blaze was one of dozens that started Sunday in Texas and that were fed by strong wind gusts caused by Tropical Storm Lee. Forestry officials said that Tuesday’s calmer winds would help firefighting efforts. – Yahoo News
Texas cut fire department funding by 75 percent this year
Under Gov. Rick Perry (R) this year, Texas slashed state funding for the volunteer fire departments that protect most of the state from wildfires like the ones that have recently destroyed more than 700 homes.
Volunteer departments that were already facing financial strain were slated to have their funding cut from $30 million to $7 million, according to KVUE.
The majority of Texas is protected by volunteer fire departments. There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas and only 114 paid fire departments. Another 187 departments are a combination of volunteer and paid.
For that reason, aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could be more important than ever to the state where wildfires have recently been raging.
At a press conference Monday, Perry promised to seek federal disaster relief and said that FEMA would be in the state by Wednesday.
While the Texas governor has been highly critical of FEMA in the past, he told CBS’ Erica Hill Tuesday that now was not the time to worry about reforming the agency.
“The issue is taking care of these people right now,” Perry insisted. “We can work our way through any conversations about how to make agencies more efficient, how to make Department of Defense equipment, for instance, more available. There are a lot of issues we can talk about, but the fact of the matter is now is not the time to be trying to work out the details of how to make these agencies more efficient. Let’s get people out of harm’s way.” – Raw Story
Also see this recent NASA imagery map of all current fires across the world:
From February 2011:
Ezekiel 28:8 “They will bring you down to the Pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the sea.”
”They” – are the LOZ. Keep a watch on that region as the balls of fire appear there. They are a sign that destruction awaits that region in the near future. The LOZ is laying out its strategic plan of action as it marks the regions to be consumed with fire and other disasters that destroy those marked regions.