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Texas Wildfires: 'Aerial Assault' To Start Today

U.S. Forestry Service firefighter Samantha McKelvy worked Thursday to put out a hot spot near Bastrop, Texas. i

U.S. Forestry Service firefighter Samantha McKelvy worked Thursday to put out a hot spot near Bastrop, Texas. LM Otero/AP hide caption

itoggle caption LM Otero/AP
U.S. Forestry Service firefighter Samantha McKelvy worked Thursday to put out a hot spot near Bastrop, Texas.

U.S. Forestry Service firefighter Samantha McKelvy worked Thursday to put out a hot spot near Bastrop, Texas.

LM Otero/AP

"Firefighters are planning their biggest aerial assault yet Friday of a massive wildfire that has raged for days across Central Texas, destroying nearly 1,400 homes and tens of thousands of acres of drought-parched land," The Associated Press writes.

The Texas Forest Service says it has "called in a DC-10 airtanker to help battle the wildfires raging across the state. The tanker can drop more than 11,000 gallons of retardant at a time, spreading a swath three quarters of a mile long and 500 feet wide."

The airtanker's arrival on the scene comes after much hard work by firefighter on the ground — work that continued to pay off Thursday, according to local reports. The Austin American-Statesman writes that:

"Despite higher winds Thursday, firefighters continued to make progress in battling the wildfires, officials said. The largest fire is officially only 30 percent contained — meaning that 30 percent of the perimeter of the blaze is no longer spreading — but Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald said that number may be higher. Firefighters are focused more on fighting the blaze than updating the percentage of containment, he said.

"Other major fires in Central Texas that had burned since early this week were mostly contained. ...

"So far, the death toll for all of the Central Texas fires remains two. One victim was Michael Troy Farr, a 48-year-old City of Austin employee who was found Tuesday at his home on Hudson Drive near Smithville. Officials had not released the identity of the second person by late Thursday, or where he or she was found."

According to the state Forest Service:

— "In the past seven days Texas Forest Service has responded to 176 fires for 126,844 acres."

— "A more comprehensive assessment has been completed on the Bastrop County Complex by FEMA and the State Operations Center. The total number of homes destroyed on that fire is now confirmed at 1,386. Approximately 240 additional homes [in the state] have been reported lost on other fires since Sunday, for a total of approximately 1,626."

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