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Wildfire nears to within half mile of Texas resort community

Texas Forest Service

A helicopter helps battle the wildfire near the Davis Mountain Resort in Texas.

Crews on Wednesday were trying to cut off a wildfire that has moved to within a half mile of a Texas resort community with 400 homes.

Residents of some 50 homes were evacuated in recent days, and more could be ordered "if the fire does get in there," Catherine Hibbard, a spokeswoman for the incident command helping the Texas Forest Service told msnbc.com on Wednesday.

About 80 firefighters from "hot shot" teams worked into late Tuesday night building fire lines "in steep, rugged terrain" on the eastern tip of the fire near Davis Mountain Resort, Hibbard said, and they planned to attack the western side on Wednesday.

Crews are worried that gusts up to 25 mph could fan the fire later Wednesday, she added.

Dubbed the "Livermore Ranch Fire," it has spread to more than 13,000 acres and is just 30 percent contained. On Tuesday, the fire was still a 1.5 miles from the resort community, located about 175 miles southeast of El Paso in West Texas.

Some 150 of the 400 homes there are occupied year-round, Hibbard said.

A second nearby blaze, dubbed the "Spring Mountain Fire," has burned more than 10,000 acres but is 60 percent contained and "looking pretty good," Hibbard said.

The fires, both caused by lightning, are the first major ones this year for Texas, NBCDFW.com reported, and come a year after the area was hit by wildfires that destroyed or damaged 25 homes and scorched some 300,000 acres.

Texas Forest Service

Firefighters view part of the Livermore Ranch Complex Fire in West Texas.

That fact wasn't lost on one resident who lamented the new fires in a posting on the Texas Forest Service's Facebook page.

"Just trying to finish paperwork from last years fire," said Emit Lopez, "and here we go again."

Across the country, an active wildfire season is expected this spring and summer.

An unusually dry winter in much of the Southwest is expected to continue the "severe to exceptional drought from last year across most of western Texas, New Mexico and Arizona," according to the National Wildland Fire Outlook, which was issued on Tuesday.

Above normal fire potential was expected across southwest New Mexico and southeast Arizona through May.

More than 15,000 firefighters will be available this year, officials said, including permanent and seasonal federal and state employees, crews from tribal and local governments, contract crews and temporary hires.

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