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Dallas-area wildfire destroys 9 homes, affects a total of 27 residences

The blaze in the suburb of Balch Springs, believed to have been started by a lawn mower, spread rapidly Monday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

A wildfire Monday afternoon destroyed nine homes and affected a total of 27 residences in Balch Springs, Texas, 15 miles east of downtown Dallas, officials said.

Balch Springs Fire Chief Eric Neal said the total number included structures that burned to the ground, as well as those that suffered relatively lighter smoke or water damage.

No injuries were reported, although one firefighter did require hydration via IV, Neal said. The first responder was otherwise OK, he said.

Authorities believe workers mowing a patch of grass in the area sparked the fire, Balch Springs Fire Marshal Sean Davis said. The blaze, which was being called a grass fire, moved rapidly into a neighborhood along the 14700 block of Broadview Drive.

Davis initially estimated the number of damaged homes at 14 to 20, some of which may have been destroyed.

Acreage consumed by the fire was not available. City Manager Suzy Cluse said she saw the fire's flames and plume start to rise as she looked out her city office's windows during the 3 o'clock hour.

"It was a grass fire that just went out of control," she said.

Authorities ordered residents to evacuate. The orders remained in effect early Monday evening, even as the fire chief said the blaze and its individual invasions of neighborhood addresses were under control.

The American Red Cross, which often offers temporary shelter in such situations, was at the scene, said Davis, the fire marshal.

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported that the Balch Springs Recreation Center was available for people affected by the fire. Cluse said the city planned to secure hotel rooms for the night for residents who need them.

The city was also helping residents find shelter for pets, she said.

Investigators and city officials were planted in the community through the night as an official cause was still sought, Cluse said.

"So far everybody made it out alive, and that’s what’s important," the city manager said.

Earth scientists have warned that such "wildland-urban interface" fires that rage between natural areas and city neighborhoods could become more frequent and intense as climate change affects the planet.