The PJ Tatler

Videos: The Texas Wildfire Tinderbox

So earlier today I’m driving home from what seems like my 15th car repair in the past month and see a column of black smoke on the horizon. I verified that it wasn’t actually originating under my hood and then realized: This may be yet another wildfire. Great. A friend had texted me earlier that smoke from the Bastrop fire was clouding the skies where he lives, which is several counties to the north (and Texas counties aren’t small). And regarding the column of smoke in front of me, sure enough, there’s an evacuation going on not too far north of me due to wildfire. So far more than 600 homes have been destroyed just due to the Bastrop complex of fires (and more than 1000 total lost) as the winds have pushed and spread the fires at a terrifying pace. Take a look at this video from the Texas Forest Service.

And this aerial view of the massive Bastrop fire, from the Telegraph.

And this one from KXAN in Austin.

The fires aren’t confined to one area of Texas. The above are from south and central Texas. This one is burning in Palo Pinto County, north Texas, west of Fort Worth.

The plumes of smoke from the state’s largest fires are even visible from the International Space Station.

View more videos at: http://nbcdfw.com.

From the LA Times story linked above:

The disaster continued to unfold overnight: 22 new fires cropped up, at least 10 of which were labeled “large” by the Texas Forest Service. Combined, they have already consumed more than 7,544 acres. In all, there are an estimated 85 fires burning in the state.

Some of the newest fires were triggered by power lines that were torn down in the winds, or by residents barbecuing or getting in some chores — such as welding — over the long Labor Day weekend. Such seemingly innocent activities offered just enough spark to fuel a fire.

“It’s hot, dry and windy,” Melanie Stradling, a spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service, told The Times. “It’s extremely hot on a regular basis, and you’ve got high winds and heat and lack of rain.”

The wildfires are particularly serious in Bastrop County, east of Austin, where more than 5,000 residents were evacuated. At least 476 homes were destroyed there, the highest number of homes ever lost in a single fire in Texas history.

It’s now not certain that Gov. Perry will attend tomorrow night’s debate at the Reagan Library in California. He returned to Texas from the campaign trail to oversee the fire fights. Other candidates would be wise to steer clear of criticizing him either way. The governor has a day job and the state is in crisis. Liberals would likewise do well to keep their mouths shut, since Obama has studiously ignored our wildfires and Texas is a net contributor to the federal tax kitty. If we get federal disaster relief, Texans are just getting back money they have sent out to other states.

These fires are sweeping across the state and seem to be increasing in number by the day. Texas is just too dry and too hot, perfect conditions for fires to start up naturally or otherwise and leap over open spaces and natural barriers. Pray for rain, folks.