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TX seeks disaster declaration

Dozens of homes destroyed when January wildfires blackened 30 square miles.


"It's pretty devastating to everyone"

—Rev. Doug Acklie of the Flatbush Baptist Church

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has asked President George Bush for a federal disaster declaration after dozens of wildfires charred more than 70,000 acres last week.

The fires, which were reported in more than two thirds of the state's 254 counities, destroyed 60 buildings including dozens of homes. Wind-driven flames Tuesday tore across almost 30 square miles of north and west Texas Tuesday. Many of the fires were a result of the high winds toppling power lines which then sparked fires in the drought-parched grasslands.

The storm hit Tuesday morning and knocked down trees and power poles cutting power to more than 75,000 customers. The community of Paradise in Wise County was one of the hardest hit towns with more than 15 homes that were burned to the ground in fires that consumed more than 800 acres.

"It's pretty devastating to everyone," said the Rev. Doug Acklie of the Flatbush Baptist Church.

Fire fighters worked to control the dozens of blazes that were feeding off a combination of low humidity, pervasive droughts and high winds. Emergency officials have warned that the 2008 wildfire season may be far worse than last year.

And although the wildfires in Texas were the most widespread, fires were reported in other states as well. At least 13 buildings were destroyed in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and firefighters in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, were trying to extinguish a fire that had consumed hundreds of acres.

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