Wildfires scorch West Texas, prompting evacuations

The Detroit News

Eastland, Texas — Low humidity and gusty winds fueled multiple wildfires Friday in West Texas, burning homes and other structures and prompting evacuations of small communities.

Several wildfires merged to form what fire officials call a “complex” that was burning near Eastland, about 120 miles west of Dallas.

A cat wanders an empty street in the Continental Villa mobile home park in Abilene, Texas Thursday, March 17, 2022. Residents of the park were ordered to quickly evacuate as firefighters fought a grass fire quickly moving toward the community.

As of Friday morning, the fires had burned about 62.5 square miles, according to Texas A&M Forest Service. It was only 2% contained and fires were burning in thick brush and grass fields.

Other smaller fires were burning throughout other areas of Texas, and Thursday’s low humidity and high winds created an ideal scenario for the blazes to quickly grow out of control. Texas A&M Forest Service had warned of a wildfire outbreak this week because of the forecast.

There were no reports of injuries.

A nursing home in Rising Star was evacuated and residents were taken to a community center, Eastland County Today reported.

In the small town of Ranger — about 10 miles northeast of Eastland — a church and several downtown buildings burned Thursday, Dallas TV station WFAA reported. The fire, which was fueled by high winds, may have started from a barbecue pit, Ranger Fire Department Chief Darrell Fox said.

"We had everything ready throughout the county,” Fox said. “But when we have the winds like there was ... and the humidity down to nothing, this is what you’re going to get.”