Fire officials search for victims

Firefighters were still going door-to-door in charred Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico towns on Tuesday searching for fire victims.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | January 3, 2006


Firefighters were still going door-to-door in charred Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico towns on Tuesday searching for fire victims. Conditions could worsen today, said forecasters, with low humidity, high winds, and temperatures in the 70s expected.

At least 25 fires burned 72 homes and 50,000 acres in Texas alone over the weekend. In New Mexico, 11 homes were burned near Hobbs over the weekend. In Oklahoma, some 285,000 acres have burned since Nov. 27.

More than 250 structures in the three states have burned. Four deaths in the drought-stricken region have been blamed on the blazes. There is no rain in the foreseeable future. Oklahoma is more than a foot behind its normal rainfall of about 36 inches for this time of year.

Four homes were destroyed in Oklahoma City Sunday, and another eight homes burned across the rest of the state the same day, according to state emergency management reports.

Two western Texas villages - Ringgold and Kokomo - also fell to flames on Sunday, leaving about 125 people homeless.

Firefighters in Texas were battling at least 32 wildfires on Sunday - including a 22,400-acre blaze that threatened 200 homes near Carbon, some 125 miles west of Dallas.

Local churches were opening as shelters for fire evacuees, and faith-based groups were also offering immediate relief for people who have lost their homes. National faith-based disaster response groups continue to assess damages and to support local clergy in stricken areas.

Last week, more than 90 homes were destroyed in Cross Plains, Texas.

Drought conditions accompanied by strong winds and low humidity have created extremely threatening conditions over a wide area of the southwestern United States. Wildfires have burned some 50,000 acres in Texas and Oklahoma, destroying at least 100 homes and businesses. Four deaths have been blamed on wildfires.


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