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Hidden Pines Fire: Texas crews look to the sky for help fighting wildfire

Crews fighting the Hidden Pines Fire in central Texas have called in an air tanker to help control the blaze, which has destroyed 34 structures and scorched more than 4,000 acres.

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    Flames from the Hidden Pines Fire glow at night on Thursday, in Bastrop, Texas. Residents of about 400 homes have been advised to evacuate since the fire began Tuesday, officials said. The cause of the blaze is unknown.
    Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/AP
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Firefighting crews in Central Texas have called in the heavy cavalry – a jet tanker that caries 12,000 gallons of flame retardant.

The Texas A&M Forest Service is struggling to stop a fire which is now known as the Hidden Pines Fire in Bastrop County. To help them in their fight, a DC-10 jet tanker that can spread nearly 12,000 pounds of retardant over five separate drops is set to arrive Friday morning.

The “Very Large Air Tanker” will arrive and be ready for use Friday morning. Hopes are high that with the combination of the new plane and an advancing cool front, the fire will be further contained.  

“It’s been a good day for firefighting,” Bastrop Country Judge Paul Pape told the Associated Press.

Bastrop County, about 40 miles southeast of Austin, faced a large fire in 2011 that destroyed 1,600 homes. Two people were killed.

So far, the Hidden Pines Fire is not on the same scale as the 2011 fire, but wildfires are notoriously unpredictable. The previously the fire quadrupled in size over the course of a single day.

As of late Thursday, the current fire was about 25 percent contained. Thirty-four “home structures” have been destroyed and 4,383 acres have been scorched, reports KUT, a public radio station operated by the University of Texas, Austin.

Residents of some 400 homes have been advised to evacuate. No deaths or injuries have been reported. The source of the fire is currently unknown.

Dennis Moniger’s address is on the list of burned houses posted by county officials. The fire also burned down his brother’s house.

“He saw the fire jump across the street and onto his property,” Mr. Moniger said to the AP. “It jumped form treetop to treetop.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that the fire is still a threat. 

The fire is fueled by the heat and low rainfall. The high temperatures reported around Austin are expected to drop, but humidity will remain low and dry, Weather Service meteorologist Cory Van Pelt told the AP. 

Smoke from the wildfire can be seen in downtown Austin, more than 40 miles east of the flames.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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