Figures. Federal Employees Started One of Texas Fires But Obama Administration Still Won’t OK Disaster Relief
Flames crest over a hill as part of the out of control wild fires in Palo Pinto County, Texas April 19, 2011. High winds and high temperatures are hampering the efforts of fire crews to contain the blaze. (REUTERS/Tim Sharp)
Federal employees started one of the devastating fires in West Texas recently but, the Obama Administration still won’t declare the region a disaster area despite the fact that 2.5 million acres have been burned.
The fight between Texas and Washington, D.C., over wildfires in the Lone Star State just got nastier.
A county official in the Texas Panhandle is now blaming a federal agency for starting one of the fires through carelessness.
Tom Edwards, the county attorney in rural Motley County east of Lubbock, said on Friday that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives was responsible on Tuesday for sparking a fire that consumed 150 acres.
“You can quote me on it: That bunch has a real corner on stupid,” Edwards told Reuters.
Tom Crowley, a spokesman with the federal agency, said bureau officials were assisting four local bomb squads — at their request — to destroy some explosives. Firefighters were on hand, he said. The wind picked up, but the explosives were too dangerous to move, so the officials went ahead and destroyed the explosives.
“Unfortunately, a fragment ignited some grass,” Crowley said. “As far as the community, we’re working with them to let them know how to go about making a claim with the government.”
Texas Governor Rick Perry has publicly criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency for declining the state’s request for a major disaster declaration for wildfires that have scorched some 2.5 million acres since November.
The Obama Administration sent aid to Mexico to battle a 386 square mile fire but refused to consider the 2.5 million acre fire in Texas a disaster area.
Gov. Rick Perry again yesterday renewed his emergency disaster proclamation for the fifth time since it was originally issued on Dec. 21, 2010 due to the ongoing threat of wildfires across the state. The renewed proclamation covers all 254 counties in Texas, and directs all necessary resources be made available to aid response efforts. Since the beginning of wildfire season, local and state firefighters have responded to more than 9,000 fires that have destroyed more than 400 homes and burned more than 2.5 million acres, an area the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.