Rain finally in forecast for Texas areas scorched by fires

Jared Calvert exits the former Ranger Law Enforcement Center in Ranger, Texas Friday March 18, 2022. Fire crews in West Texas hope to make progress Saturday against a massive complex of wildfires that have killed one person and burned at least 50 homes, officials said. (Ronald W. Erdrich/The Abilene Reporter-News via AP)
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Associated Press

EASTLAND, Texas (AP) — Wildfires continued to scorch parts of Texas on Monday, and a storm system moving through could bring much-needed rain but also strong winds, forecasters said.

The fires were already blamed for the deaths of two firefighters — one in Texas and one in Oklahoma. The largest of the fires, known as the Eastland Complex, had burned nearly 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) in an area around 120 miles (193 kilometers) west of Dallas and was 30% contained as of Sunday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Monique Sellers told The Dallas Morning News that about an inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain was predicted Monday in Eastland County.

“The rain will relieve how dry it is in those grassy areas prone to fires,” she said. “Unfortunately, Monday is the only day we’re seeing any rain for the foreseeable future, and the windy days will continue.”

Another fire prompted evacuations of several small towns in Hood County, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) southwest of Dallas. That blaze, known as the Big L fire, had burned about 9 square miles (23 square kilometers) and was 5% contained.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that 50 homes had been destroyed.

In southwest Oklahoma on Sunday, a 55-year-old firefighter died after becoming separated from her vehicle while fighting a wildfire, officials said. The cause of death for April Partridge, who was with the community of Edgewater Park’s volunteer fire department, will be determined by the state medical examiner’s office, officials said.

And in Texas, Deputy Sgt. Barbara Fenley died last week while going door-to-door telling residents to evacuate, authorities said.