Fire threatens Panhandle town, forces evacuation

WHEELER, Texas (AP) - Wheeler County officials in the Texas Panhandle have ordered the evacuation of the county seat, Wheeler, as a wildfire threatens the town.

That's after a wildfire jumped the North Fork of the Red River and threatened the town of about 1,300 residents near the Texas-Oklahoma border, about 90 miles east of Amarillo.

Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney says the 2,000-acre fire had already destroyed two homes and one business as it moves northeast toward the outskirts of town.

He says winds exceeding 30 mph and gusting past 40 mph prevented an aerial attack until late Saturday afternoon, when they diminished enough to bring in aerial tankers.

County emergency management officials are moving residents with transporation 50 miles to the east to Elk City, Okla. Kearney says those without transportation, including residents of a threatened nursing home, were being taken to Shamrock, 15 miles south of Wheeler.