Little rain and high winds make for dangerous situations in the Texas Panhandle. The extremely dry conditions have the risk of wildfires in the red. Yesterday is just another instance of a fire that sends people fleeing and wondering what's next. Use caution whenever you are planning outdoor events and especially when smoking outdoors.

Strong winds and tinder-dry conditions fueled wildfires across the area Tuesday and forced the evacuation of Palo Duro Canyon State Park and the Sunday Canyon area.

Large grass fires also burned in Deaf Smith, Swisher and Dallam counties.

The wildfire that threatened Palo Duro State Park started about 6:30 p.m. near Interstate 27 and Cemetery Road, said Danny Alexander, a spokesman for the Randall County Sheriff's Office. Strong winds pushed the fire in a line stretching about seven miles east-southeast across Sunday Canyon and into the fingers of Palo Duro Canyon.

No injuries were reported late Tuesday, and it was unclear if any structures had been damaged. Alexander did not immediately know how many acres had burned or if the fire reached the state park.

The Amarillo-Potter-Randall Emergency Operations Center asked people in Sunday Canyon and at the state park to evacuate, Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Starbuck said.

Some evacuees checked in at the Cole Community Center in Canyon, which was converted into a temporary emergency center. Officials there said if residents were unable to return home during the night the shelter would relocate to the West Texas A&M University Activity Center, where there are showers and food nearby.


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