- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

DALLAS (AP) - Blustery weather that rolled across Texas on Thursday apparently downed power lines, sparking a fire that destroyed about 34 homes in a small town near Lake Corpus Christi, authorities said.

One volunteer firefighter was burned and two other people suffered minor injuries in the afternoon fire that burned 175 acres in Lagarto in southern Live Oak County, the Texas Forest Service said.

A spokeswoman at the Live Oak County Sheriff’s Office said not all of the homes that burned were occupied. Three shelters were set up, and the Coastal Bend-Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross had set up a command center to assess what people needed.

Lewis Kearney, spokesman for the Texas Forest Service, said the fire was 60 percent contained Thursday night and power lines downed by the winds were the suspected cause. Ten vehicles were destroyed in the blaze.

The wind gusts of up to 50 mph also knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses and even interrupted some sporting events.

About a quarter of American Airlines’ afternoon flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were canceled and others were delayed by as much as two hours because of the winds, officials said.

More than 35,000 customers had lost power in North Texas, Austin and Houston through the afternoon, utility officials said.

The high winds caused the Shell Houston Open golf tournament to be suspended for the day as balls on the green were blown around. That was after a morning thunderstorm delayed the tournament’s start by 2 1/2 hours.

Besides the Live Oak fire, firefighters were busy putting out brush fires on hundreds of acres in five Texas counties. Some of those blazes threatened homes and others required water drops from National Guard helicopters to extinguish the flames, officials said.

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