23 homes destroyed in central Texas fire


The smoke from a grassfire can be seen off Highway 71 near Bastrop, Texas on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009. At least two helicopters and two air tankers were dousing the estimated 400-acre wildfire near Bastrop and Smithville on Saturday. Officials have evacuated residents and shut down the highway leading into the area.

Austin American-Statesman, Deborah Cannon/The AP
Published: Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 3:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 3:21 p.m.

BASTROP, Texas A wildfire fueled by grass, brush and trees has destroyed at least 23 homes and three businesses in Central Texas.

Officials said two National Guard helicopters joined other aircraft Sunday in dropping water on the blaze near the towns of Bastrop and Smithville.

The wildfire had charred just over a square mile since it was started Saturday by a fallen power line.

Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney said the fire was about 50 percent contained Sunday.

He said some residents who were evacuated during the night were being escorted back into the area on Sunday to identify their property.

Bastrop is about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

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