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Two dead as wildfires scorch Texas, Perry back home

Sep 5, 2011, 5:41 p.m.
Flames engulf a road near Bastrop State Park as a wildfire burns out of control near Bastrop, Texas September 5, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone

The Texas Forest Service said 'dozens' of aircraft are responding to fire danger, including four heavy airtankers, 15 single-engine airtankers, and 13 aerial supervision aircraft.

In the Steiner Ranch area of Austin, a separate fire has forced the evacuation of some 1,000 homes. One woman desperately scanned the wall of thick black smoke and flames looking for her lost dog.

"I was just driving around the neighborhood, I'm five months pregnant, and I was taking in smoke and I was freaking out," she said. "I looked to the right of me and everything over there was full of fire, it was just gone."

About 200 homes had to be evacuated due to a brush fire in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville. Another 150 homes were evacuated in Longview, in east Texas. A dozen homes were under mandatory evacuation on Monday near Tyler in east Texas.

The winds sent ash from the fires flying around the state. Residents thirty miles away from Austin woke up on Monday morning to find ashes on their cars parked in their driveways.

Weather forecasters say the winds now fueling the fires should start dying down after midnight on Monday.

"It's going to be horrible for tonight, but the winds will start diminishing after midnight," said Sally Russell, Meteorologist for the Weather Channel. "Winds that are now 35 to 40 miles per hour will be down to 5 to 10 miles an hour after midnight.

(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Peter Bohan)

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