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What the Blazes – Everything’s Big in Texas

by Bennett Owen

Feel the heat: The Texas Forest Service undertook controlled burns on April 17 near the McDonald Observatory. CREDIT: Frank Cianciolo/McDonald Observatory. Image from

As I write this, death tolls and damage estimates are still being calculated from the weekend tornados and firefighters in West Texas are still waging combat against some 8000 wildfires that have charred an unbelievable 1.6 - million acres… a chunk of real estate twice as big as Rhode Island.  Officials say some of the infernos are traveling 100 yards per minute. Yes, you read that right. And there’s plenty of fuel left to burn thanks to a prolonged drought in the region. Add those fierce West Texas gales and it’s a recipe for disaster. 

Shot near Strawn, TX, Monday, April 18, 2011. Credit: (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)

One rancher in the northwest part of the state said the wind was so strong over the weekend it blew pasture gates right off their hinges. The loss of land, possessions and livestock is truly staggering and statistics don’t even begin to tell this story. See the video here.

A charred motorcycle and car sit near the burned home of Linda and Bobby Lanter. Credit: (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis)

The Texas Cattle Raisers Association is taking donations that will be used to buy feed and fencing supplies for the ranchers hardest hit. To help out, go to Or call 512-475-1615.

Cody Tillery, 17, carries donated water inside the Red Cross shelter  Graford, Texas Tuesday April 19, 2011. Credit: (Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins)

We’ve been poking some good-natured fun at West Texas lately but this is no laughing matter and our prayers are for courage steadfastness as the Lone Star State faces down yet another daunting challenge.

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