Texas is enduring the worst one-year drought in its recorded history, having received just 7.47 inches of rain from January through August 2011. (By comparison, parts of Pennsylvania have already seen 15 inches of rain in September alone.) This has gradually devastated farmers and ranchers across the Lone Star state, but it has also helped spark nearly 20,000 even more immediate disasters: wildfires.
At least 19,626 separate fires have burned more than 3.6 million acres in Texas so far this year, destroying 1,900 homes just since Labor Day. One of the worst blazes has been the Bastrop County Complex Fire, which as of Sept. 13 has burned 34,068 acres, killed at least two people and destroyed 1,554 homes — making it one of the most destructive single wildfires in Texas history.
The Bastrop fire is now mostly contained (about 70 percent as of Sept. 13), but with Texas still gripped by a historic drought, the danger from fast-moving wildfires is far from over. To see how quickly a dry fire can move, check out the eerie video below from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which shows the Bastrop fire burning through bone-dry Bastrop State Park:
And for a different perspective of the sprawling wildfire, see the following video, taken from State Highway 21 in Bastrop, Texas, on Sept. 4:
Also on MNN:
- Wild facts about the Texas drought
- Bastrop fire destroys more than 1,000 homes
- Wildfire threatens endangered toad in Texas
- Bastrop wildfires seen from space