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Biggest question for Texans facing wildfires: Flee or fight?

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The sheer size and speed of this year's Texas wildfires have sorely tested the Texas Forest Service, now backed by the US Forest Service. During the hottest, windiest parts of the heaviest-fire days, nearly 1,800 firefighters from 33 states must revert to playing defense as the fire "heads" raged uncontrolled.

Most are evacuating

To be sure, the vast majority of people in wildfire-struck areas did heed evacuation orders, which Mark Stanford, fire operations chief of the Texas Forest Service, attribute to greater fire awareness. At least 10 entire towns and dozens of individual neighborhoods and subdivisions have been evacuated over the past few months, usually for brief periods of time.

"What we're seeing is more proactive action by law enforcement entities and local governments to get citizens out of the way," says Mr. Stanford.

But police scanner chatter from places like the P K Complex fire, 70 miles west of Fort Worth, show law enforcement working to change the minds of people who had decided to stay and fight the fires.

Why they stay

In Hog Bend, a small lakeside peninsula on the reservoir, Jim Gribble faced the same predicament as many other lakeside residents in older, uninsured homes.

"I could not afford to lose my home," he told the Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper.

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