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Wildfire in Texas state park forces home evacuations

BASTROP, Texas >> A wildfire erupted Tuesday in a Central Texas state park, forcing the evacuation of dozens of residences in the city of Bastrop, the site of a deadly blaze a decade ago.

The fire started in Bastrop State Park as wind gusts of up to 20 mph (32 kph) spread the flames. The Bastrop Office of Emergency Management posted a wildfire notice just before 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The blaze burned more than 300 acres (1.2 square kilometers) and forced the evacuation of more than 100 homes by Tuesday evening, said Kari Hines, a spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service.

The Bastrop County judge’s office estimated the damage at 630 acres (2.5 square kilometers), or about 10% of the size of the park, according to TV station KXAN. The judge is the county’s highest elected official.

An advisory by Texas Parks and Wildlife said a prescribed burn had been scheduled for a roadway in the park earlier Tuesday. Authorities have not confirmed that this was the cause of the wildfire.

Authorities closed the area over the park to flights, leaving it open for firefighting assistance. Several local roads were closed to traffic.

Neighboring Travis County had banned fires Tuesday. Bastrop County had not.

More wind and unseasonably warm temperatures — with a high of almost 80 degrees — were forecast for Wednesday, with a chance of rain and a cooldown expected Thursday.

The 2011 wildfire destroyed 1,600 homes in Bastrop, scorching more than 50 square miles (1,630 square kilometers), including 96% of the state park.

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