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Texas is Burning

Texas is home to presidential candidate Rick Perry, who denies global warming, but parts of the state are burning, due to a drought of historic proportions that has been intensified by excessive atmospheric heating predicted in global warming models. It is drier in Texas right now than it has been since the state began recording weather conditions and the result is predictable: fire. Previously, the six-year drought of the 1950s was the worst in Texas history, but it did not approach the extreme conditions being experienced now.

Wildfires have now burned more than 1,000 homes and at least four people have been killed. Bastrop, a town south of the state capitol of Austin, has been hardest hit, and a major fire there has burned out of control for the third day in a row, and is only 30% contained as of Wednesday morning.

Texas has experienced 180 recorded fires in the past 7 days. Dry winds generated by the rotation of Tropical Stom Lee have surged across the state, greatly expanding the number of fires there.

The Texas Forest Service has rushed equipment into the fire area and the state has put out a national call for firefighters. Governor Perry has complained about a lack of federal response, but the White House has said that the administration has approved seven federal grants to Texas to help with the latest outbreak.

Perry has demanded action from the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which is already overtaxed from coping with flooding elsewhere in the country. He is also on record as advocating the elimination of federal programs such as FEMA.

The state did not have a significant program of brush reduction in place prior to the outbreak of the fires, with the result that many areas were choked with inflammable plant materials and the fires immediately went out of control.

BBC News quotes Perry as saying, "The magnitude of these losses are pretty stunning. We've got a lot of Texans living in shelters now." BBC quotes a Bastrop resident as saying, "Waiting is the most frustrating thing. You're sitting there and you don't know anything but your house is probably burning."

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On the news they said that Texan's have been fighting fires for an astounding 290 days continuously.

There are also fires in Southern California. I hope they remind Mr. Perry of what's happening at home.

When I lived in Southern California there were fires near my residential neighborhood, the air, which already has the highest particulate count in the nation, was filled with smoke and at times it was dificult for me to breathe.

Fires have been burning in Texas since late Spring. They started in far West Texas, and now they are in the middle of the state. It is extremely bad here right now, and one of the fires came within a mile of my home. The fire department acted quickly, and a small brush fire in a culvert was picked up by wind gusts and destroyed two homes, damaged two others, and several acres in a about half an hour. A couple of days later, another fire nearby, which may have been the result of arsonists, destroyed 10 homes and damaged 9. Fires in Steiner Ranch, Pedernales, and Smithville are somewhat contained, but at the expense of many more homes, and the monster in Bastrop continues to burn leaving almost a thousand homes destroyed, and it is still not contained. Worse still, the fire has burned 90% of Bastrop State Park a lovely area of piney woods and home to an endangered species of toad that may now possibly be extinct, due to the conflagration.

I have lived in Texas for most of my life, and I have never seen it this bad. It is extremely dry and many old trees are dying for lack of rain. The lakes and rivers are literally drying up. At least one town in Texas has officially run out of water. Today in Austin the skies were hazy and the smell of smoke hung in the air. They say that due to an inversion layer (ground cooling quicker than the air) the smoke may be trapped over us again tomorrow.

The spirit of the people in our state has not dropped, however. I am amazed at the people and how they have all come together. These folks are having a good cry, then turning around and helping their neighbors who also lost homes. I am also seeing many people, who have apparently lost everything, expressing gratitude for their good fortune in surviving and having an opportunity to begin again. It will not be easy...

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