At least one person was killed and nearly 500 homes were evacuated in central Texas after a wildfire burned more than 45,000 acres on Thursday and Friday, according to authorities. The wildfire, a set of several blazes collectively called the Eastland Complex fire, began on Thursday evening.
An Eastland County deputy officer died in the blaze while helping others, local authorities said. The officer’s name was not released.
On Friday afternoon, about 10 percent of the fire was contained, the Texas A&M Forest Service said on Twitter.
“This is definitely one to pay attention to,” Madison Gordon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said, adding that this was the first wildfire of this magnitude to hit Texas this year.
Ms. Gordon said that forecasters had anticipated the blaze’s size and had sent several warnings. On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued wind advisories for central and northern regions of the state.
The Texas A&M Forest Service said it responded to 10 wildfires overall across the state. Those fires burned about 52,700 acres, the service said, adding that strong winds and dry grasses were contributing factors.
The Eastland Complex fire consists of four fires. The largest of those, the Kidd fire, was responsible for burning 30,000 acres alone.
The four fires scorched parts of Comanche and Eastland Counties, according to InciWeb, which tracks fires. Communities affected included Gorman, where roughly 475 homes were evacuated; Carbon, where a highway was closed; and Lake Leon. Gorman is about 100 miles west of Fort Worth. Shelters for evacuees were opened at sites that included local churches and a school.
Residents were sharing footage of the fire across social media, including scenes of damaged homes and other wreckage. And smoke from the blaze was reaching other regions in the state, including Houston, some 300 miles away, the National Weather Service said.
The Houston health department told residents, especially those with respiratory issues, to stay indoors on Friday. Smoke from fire can lead to several health issues, including burning eyes and chronic heart and lung disease, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.