Texas Task Force 1, the state's elite search team, was deployed to assist local officials and first responders in Bastrop County. With ongoing fires across Texas, the governor also urged all individuals who have been evacuated from their homes to register themselves and their families with the American Red Cross' Safe and Well program.
"These fierce fires near Bastrop have now become even more heartbreaking, as local officials today confirmed two deaths in the Bastrop area. To further support local efforts, I have requested that Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd deploy our state's elite wide area search team, Texas Task Force 1," Gov. Perry said. "I cannot emphasize enough to Texans in the impacted areas the importance of heeding all warnings from local officials, especially evacuation orders, as these fires are mean, swift and highly dangerous."
Gov. Perry was briefed on the potential loss of life early Tuesday afternoon, and immediately requested that Chief Kidd deploy a Texas Task Force 1 leadership team to Bastrop to establish a preliminary operation. This team was on site in Bastrop on Tuesday. Based on the needs of local officials, a wide area search team consisting of approximately 100 members and nearly one dozen search canines will be in Bastrop Wednesday morning to work with the local incident management team and assist with search operations.
Texas Task Force 1 is a 600-member force that is nationally recognized for its unique search, rescue and recovery capabilities. It was deployed to New York City following the terrorist attack on 9/11, and to New Orleans following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina.
Additionally, to help friends and family locate loved ones who have been evacuated due to these wildfires, impacted Texans can register themselves on the Red Cross' Safe and Well website at http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell by clicking on "List Yourself as Safe and Well,' or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) from any phone. Individuals can also log on to register loved ones who may not have power or access to a computer, or search a list of registered names.
In the past seven days, the Texas Forest Service has responded to 181 fires that have burned more than 118,400 acres, including new fires in Bastrop, Travis, Henderson, Limestone, Caldwell, Colorado, Montgomery and Grimes counties, among others. TFS also continues to battle existing wildfires, including major fires in Palo Pinto, Briscoe, Coryell and Montague counties. Since the beginning of wildfire season, local and state firefighters have responded to more than 20,900 fires that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned more than 3.6 million acres.
For more information on preparing for wildfire threats, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/wildfires.