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Wildfires burn across the South

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: Fire in Oklahoma destroys homes, prompts evacuations
  • Texas Forest Service responds to new fires across the state
  • Smoke continues to cover skies in Florida and Georgia
  • 41 large fires burning across the country, Fire Center says

Dallas (CNN) -- A new fire in Texas forced home evacuations and consumed hundreds of acres, while fires in other states in the Southwest and Southeast challenged firefighters' efforts to contain them.

In Texas, the forest service responded to a new wildfire Thursday in Wheeler County and expects more critical fire weather conditions across the west and northwest, the service said Friday in its daily report.

The fire, although 90% contained, covered 500 acres and forced the evacuations of three homes, the report said.

The Texas Forest Service and fire departments have battled 12,779 fires that have burned more than 3 million acres since the beginning of fire season on November 15. The report said that 228 of Texas' 254 counties have burn bans in place.

A Medicine Park, Oklahoma, fire destroyed several homes and caused many evacuations Thursday, according to a statement from Chris Killmer, a Comanche County official. The fire consumed more than 1,000 acres, destroyed at least 12 homes and has affected most of Medicine Park's population, the statement said.

Medicine Park set up an evacuation shelter, where 20 people took refuge for the night. At least 60 firefighters were battling the fire Friday, the statement said.

In Florida, satellite pictures showed the extent of the fires' reach through blankets of smoke that covered much of Florida, parts of Georgia and some of the Atlantic Ocean. There are 41 large, active fires in the country, which have eaten up thousands of acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.