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Raging Texas wildfires claim two firefighters

by Staff Writers
Fort Worth, Texas (AFP) April 21, 2011
Massive wildfires ripping across the bone-dry state of Texas have claimed the lives of two firefighters and consumed more than 1.8 million acres (730,000 hectares) and nearly 400 homes.

On Thursday, Governor Rick Perry sought help from a higher power, proclaiming the period from Friday through Sunday as "Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas."

Perry in a statement called on Texans to "join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires, and for the safety of the brave firefighters and emergency management officials who have worked tirelessly to protect lives and property around the state."

A cold front which brought some relief after weeks of battling the blazes was expected to lift on Friday as higher temperatures returned to the Lone Star state.

The fire service warned that it will take several consecutive days of rain to counter the underlying and persistent drought conditions across the country's second-largest state.

Volunteer firefighter Elias Jaquez, 49, died of fire-related injuries on Wednesday after he and three other firefighters tried to battle a blaze near Dumas, Texas.

Volunteer firefighter Gregory Simmons, 51, of Eastland was killed last week after being hit by a vehicle while fleeing a fire truck that was trapped in a blazing pasture.

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Russia risks repeat of wildfire crisis: NGO
Moscow (AFP) April 19, 2011
Russia is on track to experience another summer of catastrophic wildfires due to a lack of prevention measures and misdirected state funds, an environmental group warned on Tuesday. Last year's record heatwave and drought escalated wildfires in central Russia out of control, killing dozens, threatening military and nuclear facilities, and causing a health crisis in Moscow with acrid smoke. ... read more

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