Texas Wildfire Forces Evacuations

Monday, February 28, 2011 - 3:54pm

Residents of Matador and surrounding areas flee homes as flames approach.

Wildfires are keeping crews busy across portions of Texas.

A fire that has consumed at least 40,000 acres forced the evacuation of Matador overnight.

The blaze started Sunday afternoon and came within four miles of town.

There are were reports of injuries and minimal structure damage despite the size of the fire.

"All of the sudden there was just a big old blaze there was fire everywhere," said Charlie Campbell who grew up in Matador and was back in town visiting family.

It was difficult to find a stretch of pasture that was not burning near the West Texas town Sunday afternoon.

"It's a large fire. We have two. One started in Roaring Springs and another west of town," Motley County Sheriff Chris Spence said at the command post in town.

As the flames approached the town of 700 authorities went door to door evacuating residents.

Troopers asked everyone to get to the school gym.

"It's just so scary. I've never seen this in Matador, Texas," said Vivian Campbell, Charlie's wife.

"It's frightening. We had to drive in the blaze to get out of it and by the grace of god we all made it out," said Campbell.

Volunteer firefighters and emergency management teams across the region rushed to save Matador.

"I'm thankful for all of the help from the surrounding areas. It feels good to know that everyone is here," said Sheriff Spence.

As the sun began to set, the horizon got even brighter.

The orange glow from the flames could be seen for miles.

"No one has died and there is little property damage and most of what is burning is pasture land," added Spence.

The fire damaged several sheds and barns along with three homes.

Firefighters rotated shifts around the clock.

Road crews worked feverishly to cut the brush back on the side of the roads.

To save animals from the burning fires, crews cut fences to free them.

The sheriff says he has never seen fires this bad.

Teams with the Red Cross and Salvation Army are on the ground in Matador.

The Salvation Army provided support to the firefighters.

Another blaze burning near Amarillo has already destroyed dozens of homes.

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