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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