Wildfires Contained; Arrest Made in Potter County

Firefighters have contained wind-driven wildfires that burned about 121,000 acres across the Permian Basin, South Plains and the Panhandle, but there is still a danger of blazes breaking out in the southern portion of Texas.  Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney says lower winds have helped firefighters contain the intense blazes that began Sunday.  They include a 30,000-acre fire that destroyed several dozen homes near Amarillo, and a 40,000-acre fire that forced the evacuation of the town of Matador. 

Potter County authorities yesterday arrested a man they say accidentally started the wildfires north of Amarillo.  52 year-old Austin Lynn Stephens was allegedly using a grinder to cut metal when sparks ignited the blaze.  He’s been charged with criminal trespassing, with additional charges pending. 

Also, there was one fatality related to the wildfires; a 5-year-old girl was killed in a car crash Sunday on a smoke-filled portion of I-20 near Midland.

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