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Gov. Perry Calls on FEMA to Assist the State in Fighting Wildfires

Press Release

Location: Austin, TX

Gov. Perry Calls on FEMA to Assist the State in Fighting Wildfires

Authorizes State Resources to Respond to Wildfires

Following severe wildfires that swept across North Texas this week, Gov. Rick Perry today reiterated his request to FEMA to issue an emergency declaration for 199 Texas counties based on the threat of wildfires. Perry also authorized additional state resources today to combat the ongoing wildfires across the state.

"The rapidly spreading wildfire threat across North Texas demonstrates how quickly conditions can change and the importance of heeding warnings from local officials," Gov. Perry said. "I urge Texans, particularly in the northern part of our state, to exercise extreme caution and monitor the situation closely."

The pending FEMA declaration would provide federal assets and firefighting resources to assist the state in battling ongoing wildfires. Perry originally requested this declaration on February 24, 2009. His request was denied on March 17, 2009, and appealed on March 20, 2009.

Today firefighters are battling more than 20 major fires burning across 60,000 acres. Resources responding in support of fire operations across the state include 67 fire engines from various fire departments across Texas, 37 bulldozers to cut fire lines, and 21 aircraft, including two Texas Military Forces Blackhawk helicopters and contract aircraft.

State agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Forest Service and Texas Military Forces, are responding to fires across the state. Local and volunteer fire departments are providing vital firefighting personnel and resources to combat these wildfires. Volunteer organizations are also providing assistance and support for residents and first responders as needed.

On Thursday, 49 major fires across Texas resulted in more than 100,000 acres burned, destroying the small cities of Stoneburg and Sunset in Montague County. Forty-three fire departments from Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Ellis, Grayson and Collin counties responded to the urgent request for fire fighting assistance under the statewide mutual aid agreement.

Since Jan. 1, 2009, wildfires in Texas have burned approximately 240,000 acres, destroying 161 homes and damaging 20. Due to proactive efforts, firefighters have been able to save 5,939 threatened homes. While weather conditions are expected to improve today, with higher humidity and calmer winds, the State Operations Center stands at the highest level of activation.

Based on the recent wildfires, the governor is adding Clay, Cooke, Hamilton, Jack, Montague and Wichita counties to the state disaster proclamation for counties threatened by wildfire conditions.

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