If you woke up to spot the ominous glow in the distance of hundreds of fiery flare-ups, as many Texans no doubt recently have, how much time do you think you'd have to evacuate your house?
Probably not as much as you think. The video below shows a vanguard of one of the wildfires turning Texas into an overdone T-bone. In under a minute, the flames whip completely across the screen from left to right. Part of the reason they moved so fast was because of slothful Tropical Depression Lee, which sat around for days on end fanning the flames with strong gusts of wind. Another reason is the bone-dry quality of timber and tall grasses, a result of extreme drought this summer.
More than 20,000 wildfires in Texas have reduced an extraordinary 3.6 million acres to cinders since Nov. 2010, according to the latest assessment from Inciweb. This blazing year is one for the record books: The previous largest fire in Lone Star history occurred in 2005 to 2006, with 2.1 million acres burned. Six of the state's biggest wildfires ever broke out this year. Forty-nine states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have sent over fire-fighting personnel.
So many firefighters are battling the conflagration that the water pressure in Bastrop County near Austin has dropped low enough to allow microbes to seep into the pipes. Bastrop residents now have to boil their water before drinking it. Just one of the weird side effects of a yearly disaster that, this year, seems a whole lot worse.
The video follows the jump. Here, for no other reason than that it's a terrifying vista, is a photo of this summer's Davis Mountains Fire:
Photo courtesy of Earl Nottingham / Texas Parks and Wildlife