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Wildfires ablaze, Texas DR units begin deployment

AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–Disaster relief volunteers with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, finishing up deployment following fires west of Fort Worth, were deployed Sept. 6 for more ministry after wildfires scorched more than 25,000 acres and 600 homes east of Austin.

SBTC feeding units will be working in Bastrop and Montgomery counties.

Calmer winds and cooler temperatures should aid firefighters in subduing the central-Texas blazes, officials said Sept. 6. But according to the Texas Forest Service, the Bastrop County fire is the largest and most destructive wildfire in state history.

About 30 miles southeast of Austin, nearly 30,000 Bastrop County acres that burned covered 40 square miles, and firefighters were still battling to contain it, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

In Montgomery County 30-plus miles north of Houston, an estimated 1,600 acres were burning, with 4,000 homes evacuated.

“The wildfire situation in Texas is severe,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a news release, “and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property.”

Perry broke from his presidential campaigning on Sept. 6 to tour some of the burned areas by helicopter.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the first-responders who are working around the clock to keep Texans out of harm’s way, and with the families across our state who are threatened by these wildfires,” Perry said.

Jim Richardson, the SBTC disaster relief director who participated in a teleconference with state officials Sept. 6, said it is likely volunteers also will be deployed to help with cleanup.

“We’re ready to do whatever they ask us to do,” Richardson said.

“Of course, pray for the victims and the firefighters,” he urged, “and [for] the churches that will be ministering. The churches have the opportunity to share the hope of Jesus during this crisis time. Also, pray for more people to get trained in disaster relief.”

About 20 SBTC DR volunteers served 4,500 meals to emergency responders over the Labor Day weekend in Palo Pinto County, west of Fort Worth, after wildfires destroyed 39 homes and several thousand acres of timber, tall grass and brush already stressed by the drought and heat.

Of 254 Texas counties, 251 were under burn bans, the Texas Forest Service reported.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist Texan (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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