CONWAY S.C. -- Gov. Rick Perry abruptly canceled his campaign events here to return to Texas, where wildfires are burning out of control. Perry changed his plans after a morning town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C. He will miss a presidential forum scheduled for 3 p.m. and hosted by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
Reuters reports that 60 separate wildfires, whipped by strong winds from Tropical Storm Lee, are burning across Texas, destroying homes and leaving at least two people dead. The Texas Forest Service said it responded on Sunday to 63 new fires that burned 32,936 acres, including 22 new large fires. A 20-year-old woman and her 18-month-old daughter were killed in northeast Texas after becoming trapped in their mobile home by flames. Officials said the worst of the fires was east of the state capital of Austin, where one fire stretched for 16 miles.
Perry will miss a much-anticipated appearance at DeMint’s conservative forum, where he was to face other GOP presidential hopefuls, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, his main rival in the Republican contest.
Aides said the governor does plan to attend a GOP presidential debate scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Reagan Presidential Library in California. It will be his first debate since he declared his candidacy.