HOUSTON, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Firefighters are combating a huge wildfire that has destroyed hundreds of homes near the city of Austin in drought-plagued U.S. state of Texas, authorities said Monday.
Officials said the blaze, which started around 2 p.m. Sunday northeast of Bastrop county, about 50 kilometers from Austin, has scorched some 101 square kilometers and destroyed more than 450 homes.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has canceled an appearance at the presidential forum in South Carolina and a trip to California, to return home and monitor the fire.
"The wildfire situation in Texas is severe and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property," Perry said in a statement.
"I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas of the state," he said.
About 5,000 people were evacuated from the affected area, and at least 600 of them were staying in shelters Monday.
The fire, the largest of dozens of wildfires burning throughout the state, is not threatening Austin, but heading toward the opposite way, said Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Jan Amen.
The ferocity and speed of the fire made it difficult for firefighters to fight it from the ground, Amen said. "It's a monster, and it's zero percent contained."
The fire fighting situation has been worsened by other elements such as dry air, high winds from Tropical Storm Lee and the drought that has been gripping Texas.
No casualties have been reported from this wildfire.