Wildfires that have burned more than 1.4 million acres in Texas continue to rage on, and fire officials predict it could take another week to contain the blazes.
One cluster of fires, called the Possum Kingdom Complex because of their proximity to a lake of the same name, were only 25 percent contained on April 21, according to Dallas Fort-Worth NBC affiliate KXAS. The blazes have already destroyed at least 160 homes in communities throughout Texas and have scorched everything in sight for over a week.
Some fires span more than 100,000 acres, Forest Service spokeswoman April Saginor told CNN Radio.
“We’re actually seeing Texas burn from border to border. We’ve got it in west Texas, in east Texas, in north Texas, in south Texas—it’s all over the state,” she said.
Fire crews from 34 states are in Texas helping battle the flames, and small bouts of rain and cooler temperatures aided firefighters over the last few days. Meteorologists say weekend forecasts could either help or hinder efforts. They predict high humidity and rain, which may help contain the flames, but they also forecast winds up to 25 miles per hour and thunderstorms, which could intensify them.
Thunderstorms could trigger lightning which might ignite new fires, Jennifer Dunn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, told CNN.
“If the storms are slow-moving and drop a lot of rain in some areas that would be beneficial,” Dunn said. “But, if we’re talking about scattered or isolated storms that are moving at a pretty good clip, they’re not going to provide much help in this case.”
Nearly 70 percent of the state is experiencing an historic drought. West Texas, which averages about 15 inches of rain a year, has only seen 13-hundredths of an inch of rain over the past six months, CNN reported.
“This is an event that is going to mark time in our county’s history,” Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer told KXAS. His county is one of the hardest-hit. “It’s something that is going to change forever the looks, and the community itself. I mean, it’ll be life before the fire and life after the fire—it’s that big a deal.”
Volunteers in the affected towns have received a swarm of donations, and a few, including PonderaPK.com and PK East Volunteer Fire Department, are now only accepting monetary contributions.
One firefighter has been killed and at least five others wounded while battling the blazes.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry proclaimed April 22 to April 25 as Days of Prayer for Rain.
“It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires, and for the safety of the brave firefighters and emergency management officials who have worked tirelessly to protect lives and property around the state,” he said in a statement.