Witness to disaster: Homes incinerated near PK Lake



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Posted on August 30, 2011 at 10:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 31 at 1:40 PM

Palo Pinto grass fire

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PALO PINTO COUNTY — The sky is glowing orange once again tonight over Possum Kingdom Lake. Officials say the massive wildfire does seem to be slowing a bit Tuesday evening because of slowing winds and rising humidity, but this fire spread so far and so fast during the afternoon that some places simply didn't have a chance.

We witnessed a condominium complex engulfed by the wall of fire, buildings collapsing before our eyes, with nothing left standing but stairwells. The fire then turned north toward a neighborhood.

"It came through here so fast, there was no stopping it," said Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer. "Right now, they're over on the next ridge trying to save those houses." He said the flames were moving more quickly than during April's firestorm.

Earlier, we watched the fire cut off Highway 16 as crews gathered for the battle. Some firefighters were cut off from colleagues by the flames.

The Texas Forest Service assigned 10 aircraft to battle the fire; at lest 35 fire departments responded. They did their best.

There are about 200 firefighters at this hour, including two task forces from the TFS. They will stay on the job through the night. There is no estimate on how much — if any — of the blaze is contained, and although officials said the winds were dropping, they seem to be picking up now, and that can only be bad news.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com