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High winds, dry weather spark fires across Texas Sunday

By the CNN Wire Staff
A pickup drives through a fire line Sunday in Matador, Texas, northeast of Lubbock.
A pickup drives through a fire line Sunday in Matador, Texas, northeast of Lubbock.
  • Roughly 15,000 acres on fire in separate Texas blazes
  • Dry weather and heavy winds to blame, officials say

(CNN) -- Heavy winds and dry weather helped set off a rash of fires across a wide swath of north, central and west Texas on Sunday, state forestry officials said.

The Texas Forest Service reported 15,000 acres caught fire across the state. The largest concentration of blazes broke out around the west Texas town of Midland and near the panhandle city of Amarillo, where meteorologists reported wind gusts of up to 69 miles an hour.

There have been no fatalities, said Lewis Kearney, a spokesman for the forest service's Texas State Lone Star Incident Management Team. However, the high winds made it difficult for firefighters to use aircraft to contain the blazes.

Kearney said heavy winds are expected to blow across much of the state into Monday, thus making it more likely that firefighters could be many hours away from dousing the final flames spread by the winds.

Kearney said "numerous homes" have been burned in west Texas and that firefighters were continuing to battle the blazes as of Sunday night.

In Amarillo, the National Weather Service reported that as of 2:32 p.m. CT Sunday afternoon a mandatory evacuation order had been issued in northeast Potter County. A second evacuation order was issued for the city of Borger a half hour later.

Throughout the afternoon, fires consumed large swaths of land ranging from 30 to 800 acres in Haskell, Mitchell, Howard, Randall and Tom Green counties, among others.