wildfire | KERA News

wildfire

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

Thousands more people were fleeing their homes as some of the worst wildfires in California's history continued to sweep through wine country, leaving a trail of smoldering destruction and a death toll that authorities say has reached 31.

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET

In the outbreak of powerful and destructive fires that have struck California since Sunday, there are now 22 large wildfires burning in the state. They've caused at least 23 deaths and scorched nearly 170,000 acres, officials said Wednesday.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

At least 15 people have died in intense wildfires that have destroyed thousands of buildings in Northern California, where firefighters are battling 17 large blazes in the state's wine country, including Napa and Sonoma counties. Together, they've burned 115,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

At least a dozen wildfires burning in Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Florida have charred more than 1,700 square miles and remain largely uncontained.

Rachel Hubbard of member station KOSU in Oklahoma City, Okla., reported at least six people have died in the wildfires:

On top of the hill overlooking the Hidden Pine Valley, an area just west of Smithville, are the charred remains of pine trees destroyed by the 2011 Labor Day wildfire that ravaged more than 34-thousand acres, destroyed over 16-hundred homes and took the lives of two people.

Our Friday coverage of the Hidden Pines fire is here.

A wildfire that started Tuesday in Bastrop County continues to spread, thanks in part to high, shifting winds on Wednesday, officials say. 

A study produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council ranks Texas first among states for the number of citizens exposed to  week or more of dangerous wildfire smoke in 2011.  

Dr. Patrick Kinney, from the Mailman School of Public Health, at Columbia University, says the smoke can affect health far beyond the fires.

"There’s a large body of health research that indicates on days with high smoke levels there is a greater risk of lung problems such as those experienced by asthmatics or people with chronic lung diseases," said Kinney.

A stretch of Interstate 35W in Fort Worth tops Texas' list of the most congested roadway segments in the state.

Marshal: Wildfire Almost Contained

May 23, 2012
David Brock, via DFW Police Scanner

More than 750 acres burned so far in a fire that started just before noon near Pilot Point.

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>

The Texas Association of Business has joined one of 5 lawsuits against the state arguing that Texas education funding is inadequate.

The state’s top education official, Robert Scott, said he’s resigning his post as Texas Education Agency Commissioner, effective July 2.

He’ll leave five years to the day after Gov. Rick Perry appointed him as TEA leader. In a press release, Perry praised Scott’s performance.

Commissioner Scott's tenure overseeing nearly 5 million public school children statewide is the longest in the past 20 years.

American Airlines sent word to its employees today that it will not “terminate” pensions after all, but will freeze them.

Richard Lacey (cc) flickr

An executive with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity has resigned after a dispute over funding for Planned Parenthood. 

Karen Handel announced her resignation as vice president for public policy in a letter to Komen officials Tuesday.

Handel said in her letter that she had supported cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood.

Handel, a former Republican candidate for governor in Georgia, emphasized her opposition to abortion during her 2010 campaign.

Dallas, TX – The devastating Texas wildfire season has now been going on for a year, and there's no end in sight.

A few fires have flared up recently - unlike the numerous massive blazes this spring and summer.

But the Texas Forest Service says more large fires are expected this winter because of the ongoing drought. So officials are not declaring an end to the wildfire season that started Nov. 15, 2010.