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Disaster declared in Texas county as wildfire destroys over 50 homes, swells to over 9,000 acres

The Mesquite Heat Fire prompted evacuations and burned more than 50 homes, officials said.

A disaster was declared in a Texas county as a wildfire has grown to over 9,000 acres and burned dozens of homes, officials said Thursday.

NBC affiliate KRBC of Abilene reported the Mesquite Heat Fire in Taylor County had burned 50 or 60 homes as of midday Thursday. The fire was only 5 percent contained.

Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams provided the number of affected homes Thursday morning on Facebook Live. He said the number of burned homes was just an estimate, the station reported.

The wildfire, which ignited Tuesday, took a turn for the worse, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday. The fire was 30 percent contained earlier in the week; however, as weather conditions worsened, it grew to over 9,000 acres, and containment dwindled to only 5 percent as of Thursday afternoon.

The county judge, or chief executive, signed a declaration of disaster Wednesday, citing several areas in the county where residents needed to evacuate, including the town of Buffalo Gap.

Taylor County is in central Texas about 170 miles west of Fort Worth.

Authorities dropped fire retardant over flames Wednesday, but only in areas that were not populated, according to the sheriff’s office.

The county’s expo center has been providing shelter to livestock and domestic animals, the sheriff’s office said.

Elsewhere in the state, a Texas A&M Forest Service firefighter sustained multiple burn injuries Tuesday working the Coconut Fire in Wilbarger County, which is about 160 miles north of Taylor County, the forest service said.

That wildfire, which had burned 25,000 acres, was 20 percent contained Thursday, according to the Texas Wildfire Public Viewer, which tracks ongoing wildfires in the state.

According to the public viewer website, there were 11 wildfires in Texas as of Thursday afternoon.