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Texas wildfires destroy over 1,000 homes: Perry

Sep 6, 2011, 5:45 a.m.
Allen Hoffman runs towards the home of Patrick McAlister as smoke engulfs the house while a wildfire burns out of control near Bastrop, Texas September 5, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wildfires sweeping across Texas have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, Governor Rick Perry said on Tuesday.

In an interview with CBS, Perry said he hopes cooler temperatures and slowing winds on Tuesday would help firefighters make headway in containing more than 50 fires across the state.

"There's over a thousand homes now that have been lost by these fires -- over 50 fires -- in the state of Texas," Perry said from the state capital Austin.

"It's still a very critical and very fluid situation," he said.

More than 3.6 million acres (1.5 million hectares) in Texas have been scorched by wildfires since November, fed by a continuing drought that has caused more than $5 billion in damage to the state's agricultural industry and shows no sign of easing any time soon.

The Texas Forest Service responded on Sunday to 63 new fires burning on more than 32,000 acres, including 22 new large fires. Authorities said two people were killed on Sunday.

Officials said the worst of the fires was the Bastrop County Complex fire, east of Austin, which stretched for 16 miles.

Perry, the frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates, canceled his appearance at a candidate roundtable in South Carolina on Monday to return to Austin.

He told CBS he was focused on the firefighting effort and did not know whether he would attend a Republican candidates debate in California on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Jackie Frank)

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