A 16-mile-wide blaze southeast of Austin has scorched more than 25,000 acres as firefighters struggle to contain the fire.
Approximately 500 homes in Bastrop have gone up in smoke as the fast-moving fire – which has even jumped the Colorado River – continues to rage on. Evacuees number 5,000 as in Bastrop alone as the unstoppable flames fight back against Black Hawk helicopters trying to douse the fire. There was little good news to be heard for residents of the town 30 miles southeast of Austin. Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Jan Amen said, “It’s a monster, and it’s zero percent contained.” In fact, pictures and video are scarce out of Bastrop as all people, media included, are being kept far from the blaze.
(PHOTOS: Severe Drought in Texas)
Local news station KVUE says the fire has torched half of the Bastrop State Park’s 6,000 acres. But the Bastrop fire is just one of dozens raging across the state. According to the Associated Press, 63 fires have cropped up since Sunday. Winds spun out from Tropical Storm Lee helped to fuel the fires, which have ample tinder from the parched earth in central Texas. The state is seeing its worst drought since the 1950s.
A separate fire burned Sunday evening in Steiner Ranch, a posh lakefront subdivision 15 miles northeast of Austin. That fire destroyed 25 homes after hundreds were evacuated. In the video below, one man found the devastation quite emotional upon his return to town. And there’s just one thing on the minds of many Texans today: “We’ll get rain one of these days,” Weather Channel meteorologist Ed Levy promised — though it sounded more like a plea.
Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
READ: Forget Irene: The Drought in Texas Is the Catastrophe That Could Really Hurt