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Gov. Perry Tours Areas Devastated by Wildfires

Location: Merkel, TX

Thank you for being here today.

We've witnessed the devastation of wildfires before, but that never prepares you for sights like these.

Commissioner Staples and I just finished touring some of the affected areas, and spoke with local emergency management officials, who have been hard at work protecting life and property in the face of these dangerous conditions.

Our thoughts and prayers are with a firefighter who was critically burned over the weekend fighting the Crawford fire, which spread across Moore and Potter counties.

I'd ask our fellow Texans to pray for his full recovery.

The devastation of the landscape here is awful to witness, as is the pain felt by families who have lost so much in a very short time - much of which is simply irreplaceable.
As Commissioner Staples can tell you, for ranchers and farmers, the land is their livelihood, and they're facing a long way back from this catastrophic damage.

The threat of wildfires is one we've lived with consistently for months now.

Anytime you combine extreme drought with the sort of wind conditions we've been dealing with over the last week or so, it's a combination that can lead to disaster.

And that's exactly what we have on our hands.

Over the past seven days alone, wildfires have destroyed more than 334,000 acres in Texas with 111 structures destroyed, 81 of those family homes.

Since the beginning of wildfire season last November, nearly 1 million Texas acres [973,001] have burned, and more than 1,278 structures have been destroyed.

Though efforts have been complicated by high, gusting winds, our firefighters and emergency personnel have responded heroically, saving 435 homes over the last seven days.

Since the beginning of wildfire season, they've saved 7,020 Texas families from the pain of losing their homes.

As we've seen time and again, when their fellow Texans are in need, we've been able to count on the heroism of men and women who run toward the danger as everyone else flees.

As we witness the devastation, we also witness some of the best in human nature, not just those fighting the fires directly, but also those opening their homes and hearts to those displaced by these fires.

The Texas tradition of neighbor helping neighbor lives on, and I'd like to extend the gratitude of all Texans to everyone involved in fighting these fires and caring for those who have lost their homes.

In the meantime, I urge Texans to continue heeding all warnings from fire and local officials, and to take whatever precautions necessary to minimize the risk of wildfire.

In Austin, we'll continue taking the necessary steps to make sure those involved in these efforts get the support they need.

Now, I'd like to bring up our Commissioner Staples, Todd?

[KIDD SPEAKS, INTRODUCES GARY BENNETT, Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the Texas Forest Service]

Thank you, Gary.
I'd also like to thank everyone on your team and Nim's for all your efforts throughout the last few months, and the past week in particular.

Our gratitude goes out, as well, for the tireless efforts of our Texas Military Forces, TxDOT crews, DPS Highway Patrol officers and countless others who have worked so hard to mitigate the damages throughout this crisis, as well as the volunteer organizations who are doing so much to help where they can.
Now, we'll take any questions from any members of the working press that are here today.

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