More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in wildfires sweeping across rural Texas – and the biggest of the blazes is still completely uncontained, state officials have admitted.
Powerful gusts of wind from Tropical Storm Lee continued to fan the flames last night, making it virtually impossible for emergency services to gain an upper hand on the unfolding disaster. About 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.
Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, has taken time out from campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination to co-ordinate the official response. Yesterday, he said that 100,000 acres had been burned by 57 separate fires in the past week. The biggest is a 16-mile-wide blaze in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, where 600 homes have been destroyed. Mr Perry said flying over the scene had been a "surreal" experience. "This is as mean-looking as I've ever seen, particularly as it's so close to the city," he said.
Texas is currently suffering from its worst drought since the 1950s and has experienced record temperatures during the summer.