Texas residents quickly fled as wildfire closed in

September 8, 2011 • National News

An area destroyed by wildfire surrounds a water tower, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Bastrop, Texas. The fire has destroyed more than 600 homes and blackened about 45 square miles in and around Bastrop. A search team on Wednesday will begin looking for more possible victims of the fire, which has killed two people and forced thousands to evacuate. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

BASTROP, Texas (AP) — Dennis Silman was in line at the store when his wife’s urgent call came through: They needed to get out. Smoke was drifting up through the woods and the wildfire that just 30 minutes earlier wasn’t near enough to pose a problem was visible over the treetops by the time he got home.

In just 90 minutes, Silman was able to make four trips loading clothes and a few important possessions into his Mustang. He could feel the blaze’s heat and hear the crackling roar as he packed his car. Less than two hours after they drove away for the last time Sunday, the Bastrop Complex fire consumed his home and six other houses of relatives who all lived within about four square miles of each other.

“My house, my sister-in-law, her brother, my mother-in-law and three brothers-in-law houses are gone,” the 53-year-old bail bondsman said Wednesday outside the county convention center where he came to find out about federal assistance. “Everything’s gone now.”

Fed by stiff winds and extreme drought, the more than 33,000-acre blaze Login to read more

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