US: Grass fires burn more homes in drought-ravaged North Texas

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A grass fire spread to at least nine homes in a rural North Texas subdivision Tuesday, marking the second such damaging grass fire spread in the drought-ravaged region in as many days.

The fire in the rural Rendon community, 11 miles (17 kilometers) southeast of Fort Worth, came one day after a grass fire spread into a subdivision in Balch Springs, a Dallas suburb.

The Rendon fire was reported about 7 p.m. Tuesday when a grass fire spread rapidly to one home on a rural back road. The fire, aided by flying embers, spread rapidly to neighboring homes. Video online showed homes completely involved in flames as the fire attack was hampered for a while when a primary water hose ruptured when vehicles drove over it, according to the Rendon Fire Department Twitter feed. Units relied on tanker trucks for water and had to shuttle to refill their tanks.

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Units from Fort Worth and 13 other departments assisted the Rendon department crew.

High-voltage power lines were downed and propane tanks were set on fire, according to the feed. No injuries were immediately reported.

The fire came a day after the Balch Springs fire, which destroyed nine homes. Residents of the city's Spring Ridge subdivision said the fire swept from an adjoining open field after weeks of complaining to city officials about its owner failing to keep the field mowed.

The field owner finally sent a mowing crew to the field Monday after two unheeded requests by city officials culminated in a citation for a code violation, city Fire Marshal Sean Davis said.

That was when a spark from the mower blade striking debris ignited the tinder-dry grass, and a fire sped into the adjacent subdivision, damaging 26 homes, destroying nine of them, Davis said.

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Damage estimates topped $6 million, according to a city statement.

Video: Video shows grass fire spreading into Dallas neighborhood, consuming homes (NBC News)

Field-mowing crews had been urged to have a spotter watch for sparks and ignitions, Davis said.

North Texas has been vulnerable to explosive wildfires for at least two weeks with temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) with 20-mph (32-kph) wind gusts and 20% humidity.

Fire crews working a 10 1/2-square-mile (27-square-kilometer) wildfire that destroyed 16 homes and damaged five others turned their attention Tuesday toward hot spots inside the fire footprint, officials said.

In a statement, the Southern Area Blue, Type-I Incident Management Team said “significant hotspots” throughout the Chalk Mountain Fire involved unburned and partially burned fuels.

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Fire crews are performing grid searches throughout the fire zone 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Fort Worth, with particular emphasis given near homes within the fire zone.

With the fire 20% contained, crews also are working to secure fire lines around the fire zone.

And fire crews are standing down on the western shore of Possum Kingdom Lake after a fire that destroyed five homes was declared 100% contained.

This year has been plagued by wildfires fostered by severe to extreme drought throughout the West.

In California, firefighters were making progress Tuesday against a huge wildfire that spread to a forest near Yosemite National Park, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate mountain communities. The fire is the second to strike the area. Another fire that broke out in the area earlier this month burned to the edge of a grove of giant sequoias.

In New Mexico, a prescribed burn in early April got out of control and grew to the biggest wildfire in the state’s history, blackening more than 500 square miles (1295.00 square kilometers) in the north of the state.

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A fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has scorched over 50,000 acres as of Sunday due to extreme heat and erratic winds, officials said. The National Weather Service has issued “red flag warnings.” Photo: Noah Berger/Associated Press

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