Rain's reprieve allows closer look at Texas wildfires' devastation

POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE, Texas — The road into Gaines Bend, a shoreline community, resembles a post-apocalyptic movie.

Acres of bare and blackened trees rise from the scorched earth like gnarled fingers. Singed fireplace chimneys tower over the rubble of charred homes.

The yellow jackets of firefighters are the only occasional splashes of color against rocky, ashen-gray hills.

At one turn, there's the appropriately named Hell's Gate Drive.

"This is an event that's going to mark time in our county's history," said Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer, standing outside a burnt-out home. "It's something that's going to change forever the looks and the community itself."

Mercer insisted that there will be life after the fire in the communities ringing the reservoir, which was created on the Brazos River basin during the Depression and finished in 1941. Lakeshore homes range from modest single-wide mobile homes to posh mansions fetching several million dollars.

Many of the areas seared by the weeklong fires — dubbed the PK Complex Fire by the Texas Forest Service — remained off-limits Thursday to residents who have been eager to learn whether their homes are standing and whether possessions could be salvaged.

More than 160 of the area's 3,000 homes have been reported destroyed.

Read the full story at