Fires rage across Howard County

Fueled by high winds and plenty of dry grass, wildfires raged throughout Howard County and West Texas Sunday.At least four homes north of Big Spring were lost when a grass fire erupted in the area of Hilltop and Jonesboro roads around 2 p.m. Sunday, authorities said.The fire forced the evacuation of residents in the area and a total of of 80 homes were threatened by the blaze.Aside from the lost homes, about 30 acres burned in that fire, according to a news release from the Texas State Lone Star Management team.A larger fire was reported in far eastern Howard County in the general vicinity of Garrett Ranch. Two homes and several oil storage units were lost in that fire, which consumed more than 800 acres in Howard and Mitchell counties, the management team news release stated. Poor visibility was being blamed for several automobile accidents in the area.Other fires which erupted immediately west of Big Spring kept city, county and state forest service firefighting units busy into the evening hours. The fires were concentrated in an area roughly stretching from Cauble Road to an area adjacent to McMahon-Wrinkle Airpark.The fires, along with extremely limited visibility caused by smoke and dust, caused authorities to close a section of the interstate shortly after 4 p.m. The highway remained closed as of 7 p.m.Several structures were threatened, as was the far western portion of the airpark, but crews had the west side fires contained as of 7 p.m., said Carl Condray, Big Spring Fire Marshal. Condray had not received any reports of either injuries or damaged homes as a result of those blazes.