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Wildfires Blazing in West Texas

Hundreds evacuated; kennel fire claims dogs
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2011 2:24 PM CST
Wildfires Blazing in West Texas
Ronnie Driver, 65, looks out at his property in Palisades, Texas, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, one of several small communities where wildfires destroyed homes Sunday as winds gusted up to 65 mph in the Texas Panhandle.   (AP Photo/Betsy Blaney)

Wildfires continued their blaze across West Texas today, though calmer winds allowed firefighters to make some headway. The weekend brought fierce gusts that carried the fires across 120,000 acres, reducing 80 homes to ashes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents. Firefighters, support helicopters, and tanker planes are mounting a coordinated assault on the fires, but it may take days to get some of them under control.

"It just takes so long get around those larger fires," a forest service rep tells Reuters. Life is on hold for many residents of the Texas Panhandle, who will have to wait until the all-clear is given to return to their homes. A nursing home and hospital had to be evacuated, as did a dog kennel in Amarillo, in which an unknown number of dogs perished while firefighters raced to open all the cages. "They stayed as long as they could, and then they just had to open up the kennels," said the Amarillo fire captain. (Read more fire stories.)

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