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Winds fueling massive Texas wildfire finally calm

By Michael Graczyk

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 7 2011 1:11 a.m. MDT

Curtis Heath throws a bucket of water on a burning debris pile on Henry Knight's property near Linden, Texas, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011. Heath, his wife, and son helped keep the fire from destroying the Knights' home and several out buildings. The group spent the day cutting fire breaks and battling flair-ups.

The Texarkana Gazette, Evan Lewis, Associated Press

BASTROP, Texas — One of the most destructive wildfires in Texas history is slowing thanks in part to calming winds.

But stretched-thin firefighting crews are still trying to get a handle on the blaze that has destroyed more than 600 homes, killed two people and forced thousands to evacuate in and around Bastrop, a city near Austin.

Raging with zero containment for days, crews finally got a reprieve from strong winds Tuesday. Texas Forest Service spokesman John Nichols says increased overnight humidity should help firefighters report some containment Wednesday.

The blaze is the most severe of the more than 180 wildfires reported in the past week across drought-stricken Texas. The fires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and caused four deaths, marking one of the most devastating wildfire outbreaks in state history.

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