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Top Morning Stories April 15, 2011

Photo courtesy of Austin firefighter Jimmy Taylor.
Wildfires continue to burn in West Texas. Central Texas is under a red flag warning Friday meaning the wildfire threat is high here today.

Red Flag Warning as Texas Wildfires Continue Burning

A red flag warning is in effect in Central Texas until 7 p.m today.  Dry, windy conditions, coupled with low humidity, mean any outdoor fires would spread quickly.  Firefighters are still battling blazes across the state including one of the biggest ones in West Texas, the Rockhouse fire.  It's burned 166,000 acres in the Ft. Davis area.  You can keep track of the state's wildfire situation with updates from the Texas Forest Service here.

AFD: "Don't Worry About Smell of Smoke In Central Texas"

The Austin Fire Department says it’s being flooded with 911 calls from people smelling smoke outside this morning.  AFD says 30 mile per hour winds are bringing the smell of smoke from the wildfires out in West Texas.  AFD says you should only call 911 if you see smoke or flames. 

No Relief at the Pump

AAA Texas reports gas prices across the state increased an average of 10 cents over the last week.  The auto club's "Fuel Gauge Report" A gallon of regular unleaded is averaging $3.75 in Texas.  Austin drivers are paying  $3.69.  The cheapest gas in Texas right now is in San Antonio at $3.67.

U.S. Budget Contains "Out of This World" Provision

The 2011 budget sent to President Obama by Congress Thursday includes money for future human space flight programs.  NASA is entering a new era of space exploration following the end of the space shuttle program.  Here's more details on the NASA funding from a press release from U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison:

It provides $1.2 billion for the continuation of existing vehicle development that is in line with the NASA authorization law passed in October of last year. There is only one exploration vehicle in development by NASA at this time, and that vehicle is the Orion capsule. The long term CR also provides $1.8 billion for a heavy lift rocket that will eventually be able to lift 130 tons into orbit, and will allow for our human space program to return to the Moon or a nearby asteroid, and to lay the groundwork for a potential mission to Mars.