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Crews battle wind-whipped wildfire in Texas Panhandle

By Ed Lavandera, Ralph Ellis and John Branch, CNN
updated 11:19 PM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: About 400 people are still unable to return to their homes, an official says
  • NEW: The wildfire has destroyed 160 structures, 91 of them homes, authorities say
  • The Double Diamond Fire is now 65% contained
  • One woman describes the blaze as a "tornado of smoke"

Editor's note: Are you there? Please send your photos, videos and more to iReport, but please stay safe.

(CNN) -- Firefighting crews made some headway Monday against a wind-whipped wildfire in the Texas Panhandle.

The Double Diamond Fire in Hutchinson County is now 65% contained, up from 35% earlier in the day, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The blaze has burned more than 2,500 acres and destroyed 160 structures, 91 of them homes, authorities said.

It prompted at least 2,100 people to flee their homes, said Troy Ducheneaux of the Forest Service.

Texas wildfire forces evacuations

Late Monday, about 400 people were still unable to return home, said Danny Richards, emergency management coordinator for Hutchinson County. Some areas remain risky because of downed power lines, he said.

Paula Lea was one of the people who fled.

"It almost looked like a tornado -- I mean, just a tornado of smoke. And it was so thick and heavy, you just couldn't breathe," said Lea, who spoke to CNN at a temporary shelter.

She said her home survived, but her father-in-law's house did not.

A cold front raised humidity and was helping firefighting efforts. Richards said authorities were still tackling hotspots.

The wildfire started late Sunday afternoon and was driven by strong, shifting winds. The cause has not been determined.

The State Fire Marshal has been called in to assist the investigation, Richards said.

Fast-moving wildfire burns at least 20 homes in Oklahoma

What to know about wildfires

CNN's Joe Sutton, Ed Payne and Dave Alsup contributed to this report

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