Drought-fed fire burns at least 130 structures


By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Los Angeles Times

HOUSTON (MCT) — At least 131 structures were destroyed in the Texas Panhandle and 2,100 residents were evacuated after a wildfire burned up to two square miles northeast of Amarillo, fire officials said Monday.

About 300 firefighters were still working in the area Monday, assessing hot spots and damage, Wright said.

Firefighters faced numerous challenges in containing the blaze in the northwestern Texas canyons, he said.

"The wind is stirring up the smoke and dust, so we've got some visibility problems," Ray said, and, "You can't go down a ravine or crevice _ you have to wait for the fire to come to you."

It's not clear what caused the blaze. But the Panhandle has been in a state of exceptionaldrought for years, and this spring has been markedby winds gusting up to 50 mph and the humidity below 10 percent.

Although the expected cold front moving into the area could bring rain, all of western Oklahoma to the north, Big Bend National Park to the south, Kansas and New Mexico to the west and Texas Hill Country to the east will remain dry, especially the Panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas, through summer.

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