Texas residents fled their homes overnight after a wildfire in Walker County quickly grew to engulf thousands of acres.
The blaze, dubbed the Game Preserve Fire, ignited Friday afternoon near Huntsville, an hour north of Houston, and spread to 3,000 acres from 100 in less than a day, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.
As of Saturday morning, only 10% of the fire had been contained, officials said.
As the flames spread, Walker County’s Office of Emergency Management recommended residents of a neighborhood about 20 minutes north of Huntsville evacuate their homes. The evacuation recommendations remained in place Saturday, officials said.
As a massive plume of smoke streaked the sky gray and orange, rancher Andy Walker, who was moving his cattle and evacuating, said he was terrified by the fast-growing blaze.
“It’s spooky. There’s ambers or ashes everywhere, if you stop your truck … you’ll have ashes all over your truck,” he told ABC13.
Officials said that firefighters were building containment lines and patrolling the area, with additional crews expected to arrive to combat the blaze Saturday, KHOU11 reported. The thermometer is expected to top 100 degrees in the area Saturday.
Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas A&M Forest Service to activate an air tanker base in Austin to help suppress wildfires across the state on Friday, ahead of the Labor Day weekend. There were dozens of fires across the state, the Forest Service map shows, with most largely contained.
“Additional resources through this airtanker base will provide even greater support to state and local officials as they swiftly respond,” the governor said.
“With triple-digit heat forecasted for this Labor Day weekend, I urge Texans to remain weather-aware and limit any activities that may cause sparks or flames that could lead to accidental fires.”
Almost all of the state is currently facing abnormally dry or drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor.
On July 31, Walker County issued a burn ban for outside burning.
No injuries nor a cause of the fire have been reported as of Saturday morning.