FRITCH, Texas (AP) — Texas Panhandle residents forced to evacuate by raging wildfires last weekend returned to their homes Wednesday, many finding little to salvage and waiting for insurance adjusters.
Rhonda Fields said she saw ashen shapes of some of her belongings — like shells in a seashell collection — but the fire robbed her of their substance. She said she felt overwhelmed by the scene.
“You go out there and there’s nothing there,” the 49-year-old said. “There’s nothing salvageable.”
Texas A&M Forest Service spokeswoman Jessica Jackson said in an email that Fritch-area residents were allowed back in the 4-square-mile evacuation zone as of midmorning Wednesday.
The fire was 85 percent contained Wednesday. Forest service spokesman Troy Duchneaux said residual fires are primarily in the form of hotspots.
At least 156 structures, more than half of them homes, were destroyed by the fire that broke out Sunday.
Fields, whose insurance agent could be at her home Thursday, said it was eerie driving to her home. With few houses spared by the fires all she saw were roads.
“It’s weird how (the fires) missed some houses,” she said.
The garage is 50 steps from where the family’s mobile home sat and it wasn’t destroyed, Fields said. The boat inside is safe, she said.
Authorities have attributed the death of one person from an apparent heart attack to the fire. Further details haven’t been released.
The area about 30 miles northeast of Amarillo is in the most severe drought stage after months of little rainfall.
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, west and north of Fritch, also reopened on Wednesday, though some areas remain inaccessible due to road closures.
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