Texas Wildfire Causes Evacuations

Willow Park fire is 85 percent contained

 

WILLOW PARK, Texas (AP) — A fast-moving wildfire borne by gusty winds forced evacuations Monday afternoon in a nearby subdivision and closed two heavily traveled interstate highways in North Texas.

Firefighters battled through the afternoon to gain control of the fire, which left 1,000 acres (405 hectares) scorched by the time Parker County Judge Mark Riley declared it 85 percent contained just before sunset. Riley said no structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.

At its peak, the fire sent columns of thick smoke visible for miles, closing about 15 miles (24 kilometers) of Interstates 20 and 30 from Willow Park to the western outskirts of Fort Worth. That smoke could be detected as far as 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the southeast.

The highways reopened as the afternoon commute was getting underway.

The National Weather Service had issued a red-flag warning for Monday as westerly winds gusting up to 35 mph (56 kph) combined with dry humidity for a high risk of wildfires throughout North Texas. However, weather forecasters said they expect the wind gusts to diminish overnight, raising hopes for a diminished wildfire risk.

Other wildfires were scattered throughout North Texas, some threatening homes. Officials, however, had no immediate word on structures damaged or injuries.

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