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Wildfires force evacuation in US town amid extreme drought, heat

Wildfires force evacuation in US town amid extreme drought, heat
Photo Credit : IANS

Washington: Amid an ongoing drought and extreme heat, raging wildfires have prompted the evacuation of residents of a town in the US state of Louisiana, authorities said.

The evacuation order for Merryville town was issued by the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office Thursday evening, saying the fire could reach the town limits within hours, CNN reported citing the Louisiana State Police.

Merryville has a population of about 1,200 people, sheriff’s office spokesperson Shannon Burgess told CNN.

The town is located just east of the state border with Texas, about 120 miles northeast of Houston.

For residents who need transportation out, buses have been made available at the Merryville town hall, the sheriff’s office said.

“We had buses immediately headed that way,” Burgess said, adding that a shelter has been opened at the First Methodist Church in DeRidder, northeast of Merryville.

Earlier this week, there were almost 350 wildfires burning in the state, CNN quoted Mike Steele, communications director at the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, as saying.

Every parish in the state is under a red flag warning, according to the National Weather Service.

State emergency operations centers were activated on Wednesday morning to help battle the blazes.

As of Thursday, more than 10,000 acres have burned in Beauregard Parish.

Lake Charles, around 40 miles southeast of Merryville, has seen temperatures over 37 degrees Celsius every day since August 18 and temperatures over 35 degrees since June 29.

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