Gov. Perry Takes Aerial Tour of Wildfire Damage in Central Texas
Gov. Rick Perry took an aerial tour of wildfire damage in the Steiner Ranch community west of Austin, and met with emergency management and local officials who have been battling fires in the area. The governor continued to urge all Texans to closely monitor conditions and reports, and heed all warnings from local officials as extremely dry and windy conditions are expected to continue fueling wildfires that continue raging across the state.
"These fires are serious and widespread, and as mean as I have ever seen, burning more than 1,000 homes since this wildfire season began," Gov. Perry said. "Texas appreciates the resources and support we continue to receive from across the state and across the country to fight these fires, and the efforts of the brave men and women who put themselves in harm's way to protect Texans' lives and property. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are impacted by these fires."
"Our primary focus is on safety and protecting lives, and Texans need to heed all warnings, especially evacuation warnings from local officials," Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said. "The Texas Division of Emergency Management is actively supporting local firefighting efforts across the state, and we will continue to provide all necessary assistance."
State resources assisting with wildfire response include:
• Texas Forest Service personnel and aviation assets, including 15 single-engine air tankers, 12 helicopters and 13 aerial supervision aircraft assets deployed to multiple fires;
• Texas Military Forces, with 2 CH-47 Chinook Aircraft and 3 UH-60 Blackhawks assisting with fires in Bastrop County, 1 UH-60 Blackhawk staged in Austin to fight central Texas fires, 2 UH-60 Blackhawks assisting with the fires in Colorado County, and 3 ground wildfire support packages consisting of 4 dozers and 16 personnel each;
• Texas Department of Public Safety emergency management personnel, highway patrol troopers, air assets and a mobile communications center deployed to Bastrop County;
• Texas Department of Transportation is providing personnel, equipment and fuel to responders;
Additionally, the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS), a network of Texas fire departments willing to provide emergency resources to neighboring communities during the threat of disaster, is activated. TIFMAS resources deployed in Central Texas include 18 command vehicles, 72 fire engines and 121 personnel.
In the past seven days Texas Forest Service has responded to 181 fires that have burned more than 118,400 acres, including new fires in Bastrop, Travis, Henderson, Limestone, Caldwell, Colorado, Montgomery and Grimes counties, among others. TFS also continues to battle existing wildfires, including major fires in Palo Pinto, Briscoe, Coryell and Montague counties. Since the beginning of wildfire season, local and state firefighters have responded to more than 20,900 fires that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned more than 3.6 million acres. Gov. Perry has reissued his disaster proclamation nine times this wildfire season; it was originally issued on Dec. 21, 2010.
In addition to the state proclamations in April, the governor sent a letter to President Obama requesting a Major Disaster Declaration, which would have made the state eligible for Direct Federal Assistance and Emergency Protective Measures from the federal government. The Obama Administration denied this request on May 3. Gov. Perry appealed the president's decision on May 26, and received partial approval of relief on July 1. A request to expand the scope of federal relief is still pending.
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