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The Latest: Firefighters get a grip on wildfire

January 23, 2018

WILLOW PARK, Texas (AP) — The Latest on wildfires popping up around Texas (all times local):

6 p.m.

All roads are open and all evacuations are canceled as fire crews gain greater control over a North Texas wildfire that closed two major interstate highways.

Local officials say the Monday afternoon fire near Willow Park, Texas, that had closed Interstates 20 and 30 west of Fort Worth is 85 percent contained. Parker County Judge Mark Riley says no structures were damaged and no injuries resulted from the fire that scorched 1,000 acres (405 hectares).

Riley said fire crews will continue their efforts through the night, mainly extinguishing hot spots.

Gusty winds and low humidity fostered the rapidly spreading prairie fire, but forecasters expected winds to diminish and humidity to increase overnight. Riley said that’s expected to aid in the firefighting effort.

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5:15 p.m.

Highway officials have reopened Interstates 20 and 30 between Weatherford and Fort Worth in North Texas as firefighters continue to make progress in containing a smoky wildfire.

The Texas A&M Forest Service said crews have halted any further forward progress of the fire, which had burned an estimated 1,000 acres (405 hectares) near Willow Park, Texas. The fire prompted the evacuation of nearby subdivisions and two schools.

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4 p.m.

Firefighters have now contained 40 percent of a wildfire that has closed two heavily traveled interstates in North Texas.

The Texas A&M Forest Service said fire crews appeared to be making progress against the wildfire that has scored about 1,000 acres (405 hectares) near Willow Park, Texas, and forced evacuation of a nearby rural subdivision and school.

Westerly winds gusting up to 35 mph combined with dry humidity had allowed the fire to spread quickly Monday. However, weather forecasters say they expect the wind gusts to diminish overnight, raising hopes for a diminished wildfire risk.

Interstates 20 and 30 remain closed from Willow Park east to the western outskirts of Fort Worth.

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3:45 p.m.

Thick smoke from a fast-spreading wildfire has closed about 16 miles (25.75 kilometers) of Interstate 20 in North Texas.

The Texas A&M Forest Center said the Monday afternoon fire near Willow Park, Texas, 22 miles (35.4 kilometers) west of Fort Worth, had scorched about 1,000 acres (404.69 hectares) with zero percent containment.

The smoke and threat from advancing flames prompted the Texas Department of Transportation closed I-20 between Willow Park and Benbrook and Interstate 30 between I-20 and I-820 on the western outskirts of Fort Worth.

Wind gusts of 35 mph (56.32 kph) from the west and relative humidity of 25 percent or less combined to place all of North Central Texas under a red-flag warning for wildfires. Homes in a rural subdivision and a school have been ordered evacuated near the so-called Farmers Road Fire near Willow Park

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3 p.m.

Scattered wildfires in North Texas have forced evacuations, led to road closures and prompted emergency officials to warn about smoky areas.

Authorities had no reports of anyone hurt Monday in the grass fires with temperatures in the 50s and wind gusts in the teens.

The Flower Mound Fire Department on Monday afternoon said parts of U.S. 377 were closed. Spokesman Brandon Barth says a brush fire that started on a ranch Monday burned about 100 acres (40 hectares) before crews stopped flames from reaching nearby homes.

Flower Mound is 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Fort Worth.

An online message from Willow Park, 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Fort Worth, said a grass fire near a neighborhood led to some homes evacuated, as a precaution. Officials didn’t immediately provide details Monday.

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