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Texas Panhandle wildfire destroys 156 structures

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 12, 2014 at 10:38 pm •  Published: May 12, 2014

FRITCH, Texas (AP) — Firefighters had stopped the spread of flames in a wildfire in the Texas Panhandle and were focusing Monday night on hotspots and buildings still smoldering 24 hours after they first turned their hoses on the blaze.

No injuries were reported in the fire, but hundreds of people from a 4-square-mile area around Lake Meredith, between the towns of Sanford and Fritch, evacuated their homes Sunday afternoon. Some moved to an ad hoc shelter in a high school gymnasium, others to the sanctuary of a local church serving the rural communities some 30 miles northeast of Amarillo.

Dozens of pets were taken in by a local animal hospital.

The fire destroyed 156 structures, at least 89 of which were homes, Texas A&M Forest Service spokesman Troy Duchneaux said late Monday. About 2,100 people remain evacuated from roughly 1,300 homes, he said.

The fire was about 65 percent contained as of late Monday night, and humidity and lower temperatures from area storms were helping, Duchneaux said.

A house-by-house search and damage assessment is planned for Tuesday, he said.

Nearly three-quarters of the impacted area within the city of Fritch was contained.

"We still have some structures that are smoldering, but we don't have an active fire," said Jason Wright, Hutchinson County's assistant emergency management coordinator.

The wildfire, which swept through a mobile home community, could have been started by a burning shed, Wright said. The homes' steel frames and burnt carcasses of cars and trucks sat under a pile of ash.

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