Texas wildfires: Some Texas wildfire evacuees return home to find little left

One family in Carbon, in Eastland County, found just ashes and rubble when they returned home. Debbie Copeland posted a video on Facebook sharing what she saw when she returned early Friday: nothing there but the home’s sidewalk. Her family told CNN affiliate WFAA they had lived in the home for more than two decades.

A neighbor lost her home too, the affiliate reported.

The Eastland Complex blaze reached more than 45,380 acres by late afternoon Friday, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. The blaze was 10% contained at the time, the service said.
The complex is among multiple wildfires scorching areas across the state amid windy and dry conditions. The forest service said it responded to 10 wildfires Thursday, with more than 52,700 acres burned throughout Texas. Earlier in the week, Gov. Greg Abbott directed emergency management officials to tap in to more resources to help combat the fire risks.
A family walks through smoke Thursday after evacuating a mobile home park in Abilene, Texas.

Winds across central Texas are expected to slow Saturday, but will likely strengthen again Sunday, CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said. But rain in the forecast Monday could help in knocking remaining flames down.

The Eastland Complex, a combination of four fires in the middle of the state, prompted evacuation orders across parts of Eastland, Brown and Comanche counties a day earlier. Residents of those communities were allowed to return home Friday, forest service spokesperson Angel Lopez told CNN Friday afternoon.

Parts of Texas are under 'extremely critical' fire weather risk today -- the highest threat level
Structures in Carbon were “heavily impacted” Thursday afternoon as one of the four blazes — the Kidd Fire — passed through, officials said in update earlier Friday on the national Inciweb wildfire information system. Thursday night, roughly 475 homes were evacuated in Gorman, also Eastland County.

“Evacuations and road closures in Carbon, Lake Leon and Gorman, and outlying rural areas are ongoing,” the update said. The Kidd Fire, by far the biggest of the four in the complex, started Thursday and has charred roughly 33,000 acres. It was 1% contained Friday.

In the small town of Ranger, about 10 miles northeast of Eastland, a church and several downtown buildings burned Thursday, affiliate KTVT reported.

“I’ve been fire chief here 40 years and when you have something like this… it hurts. It hurts the whole community,” Ranger Fire Department Chief Darrell Fox said. “This church had been here for 100 years.”

At least one other fire of the complex, the Oak Mott Fire, burned close to the town of Rising Star, according to Friday’s Inciweb update. There were “multiple reports of structures saved through efforts of responders,” the update said.
A woman waits for her companions to retrieve belongings from their home on Thursday as an Abilene police officer checks on other people evacuating a mobile home park.
Crews had requested air support to help fight the fires, WFAA reported Friday morning. Aviation crews were available to help, but high winds were likely to keep them grounded from time to time, the Forest Service said.
The forest service also said early Friday morning another blaze in nearby Runnels and Coleman counties had burned roughly 7,500 acres and was 80% contained.
The Coleman Fire Department said early Friday morning Highway 153, which was previously closed to nonemergency personnel incoming traffic, was reopened and residents would be able to return to their homes, urging those coming back to “stay alert and aware.”

State transportation department officials also asked residents in Runnels and Coleman counties to “avoid the area of Carbon to Gorman to Lake Leon to allow access for first responders, so they can work to control/extinguish this wildfire that has closed” parts of Highway 6.

CNN’s Amanda Musa, Melissa Alonso, Joe Sutton and Andy Rose contributed to this report.

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