Evacuation orders in place as blazes burn through parts of central Texas - CNN

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A rapidly growing fire in West Texas has charred more than 38,000 acres and remains 0% contained as of March 17.

(CNN)Evacuation orders were in place across parts of several central Texas counties late Thursday as crews worked to contain the flames in dangerous fire weather -- fueled by strong winds and dry conditions.

The wildfires, which combined to form the Eastland Complex blaze, has charred more than 38,000 acres, according to a Thursday night update from Texas A&M Forest Service.

Evacuation orders were in effect for portions of Eastland, Brown and Comanche counties, and no injuries had been reported so far, said Kari Hines, a spokesperson with the Texas A&M Forest Service. About 475 homes in Gorman were evacuated, officials said in an update on the national Inciweb wildfire information system.

      "Evacuations are being completed in multiple towns impacted, including Carbon, Lake Leon and Gorman," according to Inciweb. "Highway 6 through Carbon is closed."

        A family walks through smoke after evacuating a mobile home park in Abilene, Texas, Thursday March 17, 2022. A quickly-moving grass fire was heading that way, prompting officials to order the evacuation.

        At least four blazes that began this week make up the complex, the site said. The complex remained 0% contained, the forest service said Thursday night.

          Parts of Texas are under 'extremely critical' fire weather risk today -- the highest threat level

          The forest service also said another blaze in nearby Runnels and Coleman counties that had burned roughly 7,000 acres escaped containment lines late Thursday due to "high winds causing fire activity to pick up." The fire was 50% contained, the service said.

          "Highway 153 has been closed to non-emergency personnel incoming traffic," the Coleman Fire Department said on Facebook Thursday evening. "Multiple homes have been lost and crews are attempting to hold the fire from jumping the roadways. Red Cross has been contacted to assist with shelter operations."

          State transportation department officials also asked residents in Runnels County and Coleman County to "avoid the area of Carbon to Gorman to Lake Leon to allow access for first responders so they can work to control/extinguish this wildfire that has closed" parts of HIghway 6.

          A woman waits for her companions to retrieve belongings from their home as an Abilene police officer checks on other people evacuating a mobile home park on Thursday March 17, 2022.

          In a later post Thursday night, the fire department said those living north of the highway were expected to be able to get back to their homes "in a couple hours."

          Nearby, an evacuation in Taylor County, which included parts of Abilene, was lifted late Thursday, the National Weather Service of Abilene/San Angelo said Thursday night, but urged residents to remain vigilant as critical fire weather conditions were expected to continue. The Storm Prediction Center had warned earlier in the day a "highly volatile fire environment" was expected to develop in the Edwards Plateau, issuing an "extremely critical" fire risk for that area and the Permian Basin, including San Angelo.

            Separately, the forest service also responded to a request for assistance in Sterling County on Thursday for another blaze that was more than 3,800 acres and about 50% contained, it said.

            A day earlier, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the state's emergency management division to activate more resources to combat "escalated fire weather conditions," and urged residents across the state to "remain weather-aware and practice wildfire safety diligently through the rest of the week to keep their communities safe."

            CNN's Amanda Musa, Melissa Alonso, Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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