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More fires break out across parched Tx

Hundreds of people forced to evacuate homes

MERKEL, TX (UPI) | April 20, 2011

"We're experiencing conditions never seen in Texas before"

—Marq Webb, Texas Forest Service

An unprecedented wave of wildfires still raged across Texas Tuesday, officials said.

"We're experiencing conditions never seen in Texas before," Marq Webb of the Texas Forest Service told CNN Monday from an incident command center in Merkel, west of Abilene.

Thirty-one fires were being fought in East Texas and another 11 fires in West Texas, covering a total of 700,000 acres, he said. Ten new blazes broke out Monday.

"We've had 19 consecutive days of just super-dry weather, relative humidities in the single digits," said Forest Service spokeswoman C.J. Norvell in Midland. "What we're seeing right now is winds that are typical of spring, but everything else is typical of late summer -- no rain, vegetation that's just super dry. When you combine those two, it really has not boded well."

Hundreds of people were evacuated to escape the Wildcat Fire outside San Angelo, Norvell said, and a change in wind direction may worsen the situation.

Most of the fires are of human origin, said Webb, despite burn bans imposed in 201 of the state's 254 counties.

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