Wildfire destroys nearly 500 homes in Texas

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BASTROP, Texas (AP) -- A wildfire in Central Texas has destroyed nearly 500 homes as it races unchecked through rain-starved farm and ranchland.

Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald said Monday that the fire has destroyed 476 homes. He said 250 firefighters are working around the clock, using bulldozers to cut along the side of the fire and pumper trucks to drench the ground.

At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes in the county about 25 miles east of Austin, many of them fearing the worst while spending the night in emergency shelters

The county's emergency management director, Mike Fischer, said the fire is "nowhere near controlled" and that a separate, smaller blaze to the south of the city is growing larger.