Tour of a wildfire-ravaged neighborhood off Possum Kingdom Lake

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on April 21, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 22 at 9:11 AM

GAINES BEND - News 8 was allowed to join the Palo Pinto County sheriff and fire officials Thursday on a tour of the hardest hit areas of Possum Kingdom.   

It's a view evacuated homeowners have yet to see for themselves.

The Songbird Cove is in a community called Gaines Bend on Possum Kingdom Lake. Firefighters from Coppell sawed and poked their way through the ruins of what were clearly once large homes. Their work is to make it a little safer for residents to come back and save what they can. But, for most, there won't be much.

"That right now is our goal to get them at least temporary access to the area," said Sheriff Ira Mercer, Palo Pinto County.

Mercer said he hopes homeowners can return within a day or two depending on the fire threat. The sheriff escorted journalists through an area dotted with the foundations of burned out homes.

"On this side of the lake, what we're calling the east side of the lake, there's approximately 116 to 120 homes," he said. "... The lake itself is closed to boat traffic right now to keep people from other sides of the lake that are not affected."

Wildfires burnt the color of the community, only leaving debris and burnt vegetation, appearing like a black and white film of a World War I no man's land. With houses still standing, the fire threat still looms.

"What this weather allows us to do is use aircraft to maximum benefit to drop water directly on hot spots," said Rudy Evenson, with the federal "Red Team," which took command this week.

A map in which the team uses shows the spots where defensive line crews race to dig around roughly 150,000 burned acres.

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