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The wildfires that raced through portions of Texas and Oklahoma, killing at least four people, are contained for now. But forecasts of continued dry and windy weather are stoking concerns about flare-ups. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.
CHERYL CORLEY reporting:
Severe drought, gusty winds and higher-than-normal temperatures for this time of year set the stage for the wildfires that have burned nearly 200 homes in Texas and Oklahoma. Those fires destroyed more than 100,000 acres of Texas land. Traci Weaver with the Texas Forestry Service says there's still concern since weather conditions are not expected to change much.
Ms. TRACI WEAVER (Texas Forestry Service): So we just have all the components for just a disastrous wildfire.
CORLEY: Much of Texas and all of Oklahoma have put restrictions in place prohibiting outside burning. Officials say people should not discard cigarettes on the ground because the grass is so dry. The governor of Texas says the state is a tinderbox. And Weaver says the Forest Service is asking everyone to just use common sense.
Ms. WEAVER: So stuff that they normally would be able to do, like shoot off fireworks for New Year's celebration, we're just asking them not to do that, to just wait until we've had significant rainfall.
CORLEY: There's a statewide ban on fireworks in Oklahoma. In Texas, fireworks won't be allowed in several neighborhoods, including areas around Cross Plains, the Texas town that suffered the most damage this week when fires consumed more than 100 homes. Ed Rouse(ph) with the Abilene chapter of the American Red Cross says the agency is still working to determine how many people were affected.
Mr. ED ROUSE (American Red Cross): The biggest need right now is still the monetary donations to help with financial needs, meet the financial needs of these families that have lost absolutely everything. This isn't just like an earthquake, where rubble may fall in and they still may have things left underneath the rubble. Everything was burned and is destroyed.
CORLEY: Two people died in Cross Plains as a result of the fire, and there have been two other fatalities, one in Texas and another in Oklahoma. Michaelann Ooten with the Oklahoma Emergency Management Agency says fires torched about 25,000 acres in Oklahoma. She says firefighters have had a respite today since weather conditions have improved some.
Ms. MICHAELANN OOTEN (Oklahoma Emergency Management Agency): The winds are still there; they're just not quite as high as they had been. Unfortunately, that seems to be a very temporary pattern right now. We're looking at Sunday and possibly Tuesday being very bad for our state.
CORLEY: Oklahoma will receive some federal funds to help its fire-fighting efforts. Texas is seeking a federal disaster declaration for several counties. Cheryl Corley, NPR News.
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