Texas

Texas
1:30 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Wimberley Fire May Have Been Caused By Outdoor Grill

Images of the fire taken by YNN's Russell Wilde.

In an area that is currently facing an extreme drought, "wildfire" is one of the last words you want to hear when you wake up on Friday morning. But that's exactly what happened today in Wimberley, a small town with a vibrant artistic community that is less than an hour's drive from Austin.

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Texas
12:12 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Texas Wildfire Chief: "We Are Making Successes"

Fire bosses say more humid weather will help them get a handle on blazes that have scorched over 1.4 million acres across Texas.
Photo by Official U.S. Air Force http://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/with/5638679968/

Media will receive a tour of wildfire scorched zones in the Possum Kingdom Lake area this afternoon, so we can expect to get a closer glimpse of the devastation this evening. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that damper weather has helped prevent the wildfires from spreading more aggressively.

[O]vernight moisture, higher humidity and cooler temperatures temporarily lowered the danger of the fires further spreading, officials said.

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Texas
3:52 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Texas Bans Marijuana-Like Substances K2, Spice

Products containing a synthetic THC-like substance are sometimes smoked in water pipes.
Photo by smokershighlife http://www.flickr.com/photos/smokershighlife/

The Texas Department of State Health Services waited until the day most marijuana users celebrate the drug to announce it is banning products that simulate cannabis. In a news release posted on its website, DSHS said it is banning substances found in products like K2 and Spice, effective this Friday, April 22.

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Texas
3:21 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Feds Join Battle Against Possum Kingdom Wildfire

Wildfires burn out of control near Possum Kingdom Lake in this image from last Friday. The blaze has already destroyed more than 100 homes.
Photo by Texas Military Forces http://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/

More than 600 homes are threatened in an area around Possum Kingdom Lake, about an hour west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, after four wildfires merged into one.

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Texas
12:24 pm
Tue April 19, 2011

San Marcos Imposes Stage 1 Water Restrictions

Lawns in San Marcos won't be looking like this much longer, as the city adopts Stage 1 Water Restrictions on car washing, swimming pools...and lawn watering.
Photo by KUT News

Folks living in San Marcos will have to be careful how they use water, because of persistent dry conditions.

The City of San Marcos says that, because aquifer levels has dropped below average, they're preparing to implement Stage 1 Water Restrictions.

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Texas
5:12 pm
Sun April 17, 2011

Perry Issues Disaster Declaration

Governor Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration Sunday, as wildfires char parts of Texas
Photo by Jim Reese for KUT News

Governor Rick Perry is asking President Obama for a major disaster declaration, as wildfires continue to scorch sections of Texas.

From a news release issued Sunday by Governor Perry's office:

"A Major Disaster Declaration makes the state eligible for response and recovery assistance from the federal government. Texas' request includes:

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Texas
9:48 am
Sun April 17, 2011

Sunday Morning Update for April 17

Wildfires, like this one near San Angelo, continue to plague parts of North and West Texas
Image by Firefighter Daniel Hinckley, courtesy of the San Angelo Standard-Times

A calm, sunny Sunday in Central Texas, except if you're among the last-minute tax filers scrambling to meet tomorrow night's deadline income tax returns. Here are the other items making news this morning:

Wildfires Eat Up More Acreage, Structures

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Texas
4:00 pm
Fri April 15, 2011

Texplainer: How Will High Gas Prices Affect the Budget?

Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

Hey, Texplainer: What do high gasoline prices mean for the state budget?

Oil prices have risen recently, as unrest in the Middle East continues. Gasoline prices have gone up in tandem. In Texas, a gallon of gas costs a dollar more than a year ago. For state policymakers, a crucial question is how higher prices at the pump will affect Texas' estimated $15 billion to $27 billion budget gap. The answer, of course, is that it's complicated.

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Texas
2:27 pm
Thu April 14, 2011

Internet Security in Other Countries

The announcement that the Texas Comptroller's Office accidentally made public the personal information of about 3.5 million people online got us wondering in the KUT newsroom. How is online security different in the US from in other countries? 

Paolo Cunha Martins was happy to show us. 

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Texas
2:25 pm
Thu April 14, 2011

Ag Commissioner Sets Up Fire Relief Fund

Wildfires have devastated ranches and grasslands across West Texas
Photo courtesy Firefighter Jimmy Taylor, Austin Fire Department

After a tour of West Texas ranches and rangeland burned by wildfires, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has set up a public donation fund to help ranchers whose land has been devastated.  He said the State of Texas Agricultural Relief Fund, or STAR Fund, is the best place to donate and give help.

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Texas
1:02 pm
Thu April 14, 2011

Forensic Science Commission Meets

The Walls Unit of the Huntsville Penitentiary, where Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004. The state's Forensic Science Commission considers a final report on evidence in that case this week.
Image courtesy flickr.com/BizarreRecords

The state's Forensic Science Commission begins two days of meetings.  On their agenda will be discussion of a final report on the case of Cameron Todd Willingham.  A 1991 arson ruling convicted Willingham of setting fire to his Corsicana home and killing his three daughters. He was executed in 2004.

Several expert reviews of the evidence have indicated that the fire was an accident. 

Texas
7:43 am
Thu April 14, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 15, 2011

Favorable wildfire conditions are spreading east, according to the Texas Forest Service
Image courtesy Austin Fire Department

Wildfires Threaten More Areas of Texas

The Texas Forest Service says more parts of the state now need to be worried about the threat of wildfires. The agency says the area with significant fire potential will expand today to include parts of Central, North, and South Texas. That includes all areas west of line that curves down from just west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, to Fredericksburg, to Del Rio. 

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Texas
4:25 pm
Wed April 13, 2011

Eminent Domain Passes House Test

The Texas House has tentatively approved a bill that changes some eminent domain rules
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas House has unanimously voted to pass a bill to place stricter limits on government seizure of land through eminent domain.  But it still has one more test before it heads to Governor Rick Perry's desk.

The bill would require governmental bodies to make a "bona fide" offer to land owners and to send a letter to the State Comptroller, detailing what the land would be used for.

Texas
1:37 pm
Wed April 13, 2011

Images of West Texas Fires

Texas
11:38 am
Wed April 13, 2011

Was Your Info Made Public by the State Comptroller's Office?

Digital information of 3.5 million Texans, including Social Security numbers, was on a computer server that was publicly available.
Photo by Don Hankins http://www.flickr.com/photos/23905174@N00/1594411528/

Today, the Texas State Comptroller's Office starts mailing out letters to everyone affected by the security breach that left 3.5 million personal information files publicly accessible online. 

The breach means everyone who is a member of the Teachers Retirement System of Texas, the Public Employees Retirement System of Texas,  or the Texas Workforce Commission likely had their information made public,  Comptroller of Public Account's spokesperson Allen Spelce confirmed in an interview with KUT.

To find out if your information was compromised call 1-855-474-2065.

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Texas
1:12 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Personal Information Of 3.5 Million Texans Exposed By Comptroller's Office

Digitally stored information of 3.5 million Texans, including social security numbers, was on a computer server that was publicly available.
Photo by pobre.ch http://www.flickr.com/photos/npobre/

Social security numbers, names, mailing addresses and other information of 3.5 million Texans were disclosed on a state computer server that was accessible to the public for about a year.  Comptroller Susan Combs' office issued this apology and explanation.

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Texas
11:37 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Dramatic Images Of West Texas Wildfires

Large wildfires erupted yesterday in Brewster and Angelina counties, adding to the 309,500 acres of wildfires the Texas Forest Service has battled over the last week. A Garland-based company called Sky Helicopters posted the video above to YouTube. 

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Texas
11:25 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Texas Forest Service Provides Update On West Texas Wildfires

This photo from 2009 shows the effect that West Texas wildfires can have on the skies over North Texas.
Photo by TexasEagle http://www.flickr.com/photos/texaseagle/

Here's the latest information from the Texas Forest Service as it struggles to contain wildfires that have already blackened 309,500 acres. This report was circulated to media this morning. We present it to you in its entirety.

TEXAS FOREST SERVICE INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SITUATION REPORT
Monday, April 11, 2011
National Preparedness Level: 1
Southern Area Preparedness Level: 3
TFS Preparedness Level: 5

CURRENT SITUATION

Yesterday Texas Forest Service responded to 12 fires for 22,432 acres, including new large fires in Brewster and Angelina counties.  In the past seven days TFS has responded to 83 fires for 309,526 acres. 

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News Brief
6:11 am
Mon April 11, 2011

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

West Texas Fire Knocks Out Marfa Public Radio

A fire in the Fort Davis area was responsible for knocking out nearby Marfa Public Radio’s signal 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.  

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Texas
10:49 am
Sun April 10, 2011

News Roundup for Sunday April 10, 2011

The Cathedral fire (Brewster County) viewed at night in April 2008.
Photo courtesy the Texas Forest Service.

Wildfire Danger at Historic Highs Today

State officials are warning of extreme wildfire danger across much of the western half of Texas today, as hot, dry, windy conditions couple with low humidity. 

The Texas Forest Service was fighting several wildfires yesterday, but was bracing for more, reported the Associated Press.

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