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Biggest Texas fire is slowing down

One of the biggest wildfires sweeping Texas is slowing down after burning hundreds of homes, but firefighters have still not got it under control.

The fire in Bastrop County is the most devastating in Texas in more than a decade, but it is just one of more than 180 fires that have erupted in the past week across state, fuelled by a year-long drought.

The fires are confronting governor Rick Perry with a major disaster at home just as the Republican presidential nomination contest, in which is a leading contender, heats up elsewhere in the United States.

They have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, caused four deaths and pulled the state's firefighting teams to the limit.

They finally got a reprieve from winds pushed in by Tropical Storm Lee, which whipped the blaze into an inferno over the weekend. Increased humidity was moving in overnight, and officials expected some containment Wednesday morning, a Texas Forest Service spokesman said.

"Tonight should be a good night, tomorrow should be a good day - we hope. The reason why it hasn't been able to be contained is the wind."

Mr Perry cut short a high-profile presidential campaign trip to South Carolina to deal with the crisis, and toured a blackened area near Bastrop, about 25 miles from Austin.

The conservative Republican who constantly criticises federal government spending still said he expects federal assistance with the wildfires but complained that red tape was keeping available bulldozers and other heavy equipment stuck at the Army's Fort Hood base, about 75 miles from Bastrop.

About 1,200 firefighters battled the blazes, including some from as far away as California and Oregon. Five heavy tanker planes, some from the federal government, and three aircraft capable of scooping 1,500 gallons of lake water also helped.


From Belfast Telegraph