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Update: Texas Panhandle wildfire destroys hundreds of homes

Hutchinson County Emergency  Management

Hutchinson County Emergency
Management

UPDATE: (5/14/14) KFDA reports an assessment team has surveyed the damage of the Fritch Wildfire. 225 homes have been lost and 143 out buildings lost. 241 homes have been saved along with 144 out buildings. Residents are being allowed back into the area.

Update – Firefighting crews made some headway Monday against a wind-whipped wildfire in the Texas Panhandle.

The Double Diamond Fire in Hutchinson County is now 65% contained, up from 35% earlier in the day, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The blaze has burned more than 2,500 acres and destroyed 160 structures, 91 of them homes, authorities said.

It prompted at least 2,100 people to flee their homes, said Troy Ducheneaux of the Forest Service.

Late Monday, about 400 people were still unable to return home, said Danny Richards, emergency management coordinator for Hutchinson County. Some areas remain risky because of downed power lines, he said.

Paula Lea was one of the people who fled.

“It almost looked like a tornado — I mean, just a tornado of smoke. And it was so thick and heavy, you just couldn’t breathe,” said Lea, who spoke to CNN at a temporary shelter.

She said her home survived, but her father-in-law’s house did not.

A cold front raised humidity and was helping firefighting efforts. Richards said authorities were still tackling hotspots.

The wildfire started late Sunday afternoon and was driven by strong, shifting winds. The cause has not been determined.

The State Fire Marshal has been called in to assist the investigation, Richards said.

FRITCH, Texas – A Texas Panhandle wildfire that has destroyed homes is 35% contained, a fire official said Monday.

About 2,200 acres are threatened, and 2,100 people remain evacuated, said Troy Ducheneaux with the Texas Forest Service.

Crews have not yet made aerial drops, Ducheneaux told CNN Monday morning.

The Amarillo-Globe News reports the Texas Forest Fire Service says 131 structures have been destroyed, 89 of which are homes.

Earlier, Danny Richards, coordinator for the Hutchinson County Emergency Management, said a cold front was raising humidity and helping firefighting efforts.

The wildfire started late Sunday afternoon and was driven by strong, shifting winds. The cause has not been determined.

Amarillo’s KFDA reported classes in Fritch, Texas, are canceled today but will resume Tuesday.

What to know about wildfires