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Texas Fires Pick Up Speed, Sweep Through Central Texas

Rick Perry cancels out-of-state campaign events to get back...

Wildfires charring the landscape across Central Texas have reportedly picked up steam in their destructive path and have claimed more than 350 homes, leaving an estimated 5,000 residents homeless.  Thousands of other residents have been asked to evacuate their homes and take up shelter at designated emergency locations as the fire continues to spread.

The sweeping firestorm has even alarmed Gov. Rick Perry, who cancelled a planned campaign appearance at South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's Palmetto Freedom Forum today in order to better manage the fast-moving fires on the ground in Texas.

Local NBC news affiliate KXAN is describing the spreading fires as "one of the worst calamities that area has ever seen."

The hardest-hit area was Bastrop, about 30 miles east of Austin, where hundreds of homes were consumed by the fire that covered about 14,000 acres and stretched some 16 miles long. The flames jumped the Colorado River.

"it is not contained at this time," said Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald during morning news briefing at the Bastrop Convention Center. "It's going to get worse before it gets better." ...

Fire officials said conditions were worse Monday that they were when the fires flare up Sunday afternoon.

Morning winds reignited some flames and firefighters said do not expect that residents will be allowed back to the homes anytime soon.

A separate KXAN page has been established to direct donations to where they are needed to help people affected by the fires.

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