Wildfire destroys 300 homes near Austin, Texas

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BASTROP, Texas (AP) -- Rick Blakely hopes he'll have a home to return to when a wildfire southeast of the Texas capital is contained, but he thinks that's unlikely.

The columns of dark smoke billowing into the sky near the town of Bastrop suggest the 54-year-old Blakely is probably right.

He and about 30 other people who had to flee their homes Sunday spent the night at one of several area emergency shelters. They are hoping their homes weren't among the roughly 300 that authorities say were destroyed.

The wildfire was burning unchecked Monday about 30 miles southeast of Austin. Authorities are using aircraft to battle the blaze because they say it is too dangerous to battle on the ground.

It is the largest of the dozens of wildfires burning in the drought-stricken state.