Palo Pinto County, Texas
Stephens County, TX
DALLAS - Wind gusts and dry conditions have fueled fires across Texas that have killed one firefighter, injured others, destroyed dozens of homes and led to the closure of the Possum Kingdom State Park.
The Texas Forest Service says a wildfire in North Texas has destroyed at least 20 homes and is threatening another 250 in the Wichita Falls area.
The fire near the town of Iowa Park is one of several that were occupying firefighters in the area, including a blaze near Sheppard Air Force Base that claimed another eight homes.
A volunteer firefighter was killed while battling a blaze in Eastland County, read a statement released by the City of Eastland Friday.
Gregory Simmons, 51, was killed while battling a fire that started just before noon near the community of Kokomo. That blaze, which has still not been contained, spread towards the city of Gorman, which was evacuated. Gorman has a population of 1,200.
Simmons, who has served with the Eastland Fire Department for 11 years, was pronounced dead at about 2:30 p.m. He had also served on the Sachse Fire Department for 10 years before his move to Eastland.
At least 30 homes were destroyed in a wildfire that started Thursday in Stephens County, and 200 other homes are in danger. The fires that started in Stephens County spread into areas of Palo Pinto County.
Dozens of home were evacuated near Possum Kingdom Lake in an area located just outside Possum Kingdom State Park.
The blaze was burning in a mostly rural area about 120 miles west of Dallas, but the region also has expensive lake homes and is a popular recreation spot for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Officials closed Possum Kingdom State Park and clear out its campsites, fearing the fire could block access roads.
The Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office said 50 to 75 homes were evacuated. The sheriff said the forest service does not believe it can stop the fire because of the high winds.
"We actually have several fires in the Possum Kingdom area, Stephens County and Palo Pinto," said Nick Harrison, Texas Forest Service. "As you mentioned, due to the high winds and critically dry conditions, it is making it extremely difficult for firefighters to stop these fires."
Harrison said one fire, called the "PK West Fire," burned about 10,000 acres. Harrison said that fire destroyed homes Thursday evening.
"We've had multiple fires across the state in the last seven days, and our conditions continue to get worse," he said.
The public should be on alert to any possible evacuations, Harrison said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report