A day after wildfires threatened high-dollar homes and humble cabins around Possum Kingdom Lake, a shift in the wind sent fires racing toward the towns of Palo Pinto and Strawn south of the lake.
On Tuesday night, the town of Palo Pinto, west of Mineral Wells, was under an evacuation order as the fire raced toward the county seat. Prisoners in the county jail were evacuated and county computers removed.
In a last-ditch effort, county employees and sheriff's deputies were wetting down the 1940 courthouse to keep it from burning.
"We hear it's 15 minutes west of us and coming this way," said Linda Calvin, senior dispatcher at the Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Department. "We're staying until the last minute, and then we'll evacuate to Mineral Wells."
The last of the townspeople were clearing out Wednesday morning.
“The only ones who can stay here are firefighters and people who have emergency vehicles,” said Dee Jackson, a communications specialist for Palo Pinto Fire Department, and one of the last to leave.
Wildfires also threatened Strawn and Graford, but no official evacuation orders had been issued.
It was the latest twist as the massive wildfires once again changed direction and forced a new set of residents to flee.
The fire has burned about 150,000 acres, the equivalent of more than 200 square miles, in four counties, an area that is roughly two-thirds the size of Fort Worth. More than 600 homes are threatened.
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