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Strong wind drives Texas, Oklahoma wildfires

Fort Worth_Fast-moving wildfires driven by strong, gusty wind on Tuesday chased some people from their homes.

No injuries or deaths had been reported Tuesday as firefighters scrambled to douse the flames, fueled mostly by dry grass. Wind in North Texas was reported at 50 mph, delaying some airline flights.

Conditions were similar in late 2005 and early 2006, when strong wind, low humidity and dry grass and brush set the stage for fires that charred 2.25 million acres statewide, destroyed more than 730 homes and killed 20 people.

"It's starting to seem like 'Here we go again,'" said Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Carrie Smith.

The swift-moving flames prompted evacuations of small residential areas in Tarrant, Wise, Parker and Nolan counties, authorities said.

A fire in Wise County, northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, destroyed at least five homes and had grown by more than 50 acres by noon, said Smith. A fire in West Texas in Nolan County had spread across 200 acres and was growing, she said.

Some fires in the Fort Worth area that threatened several neighborhoods were caused by downed power lines, which also knocked out power to thousands of customers in several Tarrant County cities.

Flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were delayed by about 45 minutes because the wind led airport officials to mostly use two diagonal runways for takeoffs and landings instead of north-south runways. That reduced takeoffs and landings by about 40 percent, airport officials said.

Elsewhere, the wind fanned several wildfires in western Arkansas at Fort Chaffee, spreading flames to vacant barracks on the former Army base. Firefighters asked for help from neighboring counties.

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Associated Press writers Betsy Blaney in Lubbock and Anabelle Garay in Dallas contributed to this report.

Angela K. Brown, AP Writer© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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