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Top Morning Stories April 11, 2011

A wildfire burning near Fort Davis in West Texas on Sunday afternoon.
Photo by Jim Reese for KUT News
A wildfire burning near Fort Davis in West Texas on Sunday afternoon.

West Texas Fire Knocks Out Marfa Public Radio

A fire in the Fort Davis area was responsible for knocking out nearby Marfa Public Radio’ssignal this weekend.  The fire burned the power lines that feed the station's mountaintop transmitter.  KUT's digital technology manager, Jim Reese, was flown over to help.  He said Marfa Public Radio went back on the air around 6 p.m. Sunday.  "Marfa Public Radio is the only station [there] that has wide area coverage, so there were no media outlets at all functioning for about 24 hours," said Reese. 

Wildfires Rage Across Texas

Hot, dry and windy conditions kept firefighters across many parts of the state busy this weekend.  26 Central Texas firefighters deployed to West Texas Sunday to help battle the wildfires in that region.  One team was sent to Fort Davis.  The Texas Forest Service told KUT resources were also sent in from 25 states.  From The Associated Press:

One fast-moving wildfire in West Texas had spread to more than 60,000 acres Sunday in Jeff Davis County and destroyed about 40 homes in Fort Davis before it raged north and east. "It was unbelievable, just horrific. There were horses on fire, buildings on fire, houses on fire," said Bob Dillard, a former Jeff Davis county judge and editor of the weekly Jeff Davis County Mountain Dispatch. Revis Daggett, co-owner of Wayside Inn B&B in Fort Davis, called the situation "gut-wrenching." "It's very personal and it's quite surreal," said Daggett, whose business was safe from the flames as of Sunday afternoon. "And you look around and you just keep thinking, 'Well, you can't control the fire, so what are the possibilities it comes back at you?'" Another West Texas fire burned 16,000 acres in Midland County and destroyed about 34 homes, said Alan Craft, a Texas Forest Service spokesman.  

The Forest Service says one of the biggest fires spanning three counties was north of Abilene, last estimated at 71,000 acres. The Salvation Army locations across West Texas kicked into full gear.  Over the weekend they served snacks and meals to first responders. 

Senate to Discuss Guns on Campus

The Texas Senate is expected to continue debate today on a bill to allow concealed handguns on college and university campuses.  Republican Senator Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio sponsored the bill.  Similar legislation is proposed in the House. Supporters say it would give people the right to protect themselves on campus. Opponents worry it would escalate violence.