Robert Lee_Fire officials kept watch Tuesday on a wildfire threatening this town of 1,500 people, but evacuated residents were allowed to return.
Wildfires across the state, mostly in West Texas, since Monday have charred nearly 300 square miles - about 190,000 acres. The largest was a 218-square-mile blaze some 50 miles west of Robert Lee, and officials expect that number to be revised upward once assessments can be made, said Anne Jeffery, an information officer for the Texas Forest Service.
Officials were monitoring a roughly 30-square-mile fire that threatened Robert Lee, about 250 miles southwest of Dallas. While residents were allowed to return, schools remained closed Tuesday.
"It's still hot here," said Robert Lee Superintendent Aaron Hood, who sent his wife and two children to nearby San Angelo overnight while he assisted in evacuations. "You can still smell the smoke and smell the fire. If the high winds get up again, we just have to be ready."
He said some houses burned in the smaller communities of Silver and Edith near the E.V. Spence Reservoir.
On Tuesday, fires were stoked by winds up to 50 mph.
Three firefighters were injured in a truck accident.
David Abernathy, an incident commander with the Texas Forest Service, said Monday he was aware of at least two dozen separate fires across the state and expected there were "many, many more that we won't know about" until local fire departments report in.
"We had so many fires that there is no possible way to have enough firefighting resources for that many fires," Abernathy said. "Texas had the same conditions that you might expect in Southern California with some of their Santa Ana winds. The right conditions came together. It's extremely rare for us to see that."
Some fires were likely started by wind blowing down power lines, he said.
Three firefighters were injured in Archer County, about 200 miles northwest of Robert Lee, when two fire trucks collided head on after one swerved around a car that pulled out into the road, Abernathy said.
About 200 homes were evacuated in Odessa on Monday because of a 7-square-mile wildfire, but residents were allowed back home by early evening, said Andrea Goodson, a city spokeswoman.
Elsewhere, a grass fire in southeastern New Mexico raced across about 81 square miles west of Hobbs before crews got a handle on the flames.
About 100 people were urged to evacuate but everyone was allowed to return Monday night, Hobbs police Capt. Donnie Graham said. Just before dusk, crews had contained about 95 percent of the fire, Graham said.
Before Monday, Texas wildfires had burned about 156 square miles and destroyed about 60 homes and other structures in the past month. Two years ago, numerous outbreaks blackened about 3,515 square miles statewide and killed 20 people.© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.