5/5 © Reuters. Abby Felchner, Bre Riggs and Priscilla Maynard pass through the rubble of a friend’s house that burned down in the wildfire at the Eastland Complex in Eastland County, Texas, USA March 18, 2022. Ronald Erdrich/USA Today Network via REUTERS. 2/5

(Reuters) – Wildfires destroyed 86 homes and a majority of the small town of Carbon, Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported Saturday, as four fires west of Dallas burned 54,000 acres (22,000 hectares) and killed a deputy sheriff helping people to flee.

The four fires, referred to as the Eastland Complex, have been raging since Wednesday or Thursday in Eastland County, about 120 miles (190 km) west of Dallas, and were about 30% under control, the Texas A&M Fire Service said Saturday.

About 85% of the carbon, with a population of 225, was burned, the paper reported, publishing photos of houses reduced to piles of rubble.

An Eastland Fire Department coordinator was unable to confirm the damage amount and referred questions to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, where officials were unavailable.

Powered by strong winds and feeding on dry brushes, the fires consumed most of the carbon within three hours, the Morning News said, based on a report from a reporter from the city.

“Everywhere you look, it looks like a bomb has gone off. I’ve seen this place go up in smoke before, but never quite like this,” Wendy Forbus, a business owner and pastor, told the Morning News.

Governor Greg Abbott on Friday declared a disaster in 11 Texas counties and ordered flags in Eastland County to be lowered at half-mast in honor of Deputy Sheriff Barbara Fenley, his office said.

Fenley had driven the car Thursday to check up on an elderly person as part of her official duties, Eastland County Sheriff Jason Weger told KTAB/KRBC television.

“With the extremely deteriorating conditions and poor visibility due to smoke, Sergeant Fenley ran off the roadway and was engulfed in the fire,” Weger said.

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