Thursday, September 8, 2011

Texas Wildfires: Firefighters battle the blaze as elite rescue team brought in to search for trapped survivors while authorities hunt arsonists

An elite search team has set out to search for people who may be trapped in a huge Texas wildfire that has destroyed hundreds of homes.

The 600-member Texas Task Force 1 will assist local officials and first responders, Governor Rick Perry said. A leadership team from the task force arrived on Tuesday.

Fire-fighters gained ground on Wednesday against one of the most destructive wildfires in Texas history even as the number of homes lost reached almost 800.

Governor Rick Perry, meanwhile, resumed his presidential campaign after rushing home over the weekend to deal with the crisis, travelling to California to meet his Republican rivals on Wednesday night in his first nationally televised debate.

Perry's office said in a statement: 'Based on the needs of local officials, a wide area search team consisting of approximately 100 members and nearly one dozen search canines will be in Bastrop Wednesday morning to work with the local incident management team and assist with search operations.'

The blaze has left at least four people dead - including a mother and her infant daughter - killed 33,000-acre Bastrop County Complex blaze, south east of Austin, over the last four days.

Firefighters reported that the flames were at least 30 per cent contained after burning uncontrolled for three days. They credited an easing of the winds from Tropical Storm Lee that had caused the fire to explode over the weekend. Nevertheless, the number of homes reported destroyed rose from around 600 the day before. Read More