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One Year After Big Tex Burned Down, Relive His Fiery Demise

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Marking the one-year anniversary of the Big Tex fire, Rangers great Nolan Ryan leaves the team, lots of art in Dallas this weekend, and more:

Where were you when Big Tex burned down? Saturday marks the one-year anniversary since the State Fair of Texas icon caught on fire in front of shocked fairgoers. Around Dallas-Fort Worth, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Relive the day here via YouTube videos, Dallas Fire-Rescue audio and KERA reports. The fire happened on the final Friday of the 2012 State Fair. Big Tex had been recovering from all of the 60th birthday celebrations thrown in his honor. Then, around 10 a.m., smoke started to climb up Big Tex. The smoke quickly turned into flames, which consumed his legs and arms. It ate his cowboy hat and then his face. Firefighters were called to the scene with this unusual dispatch: “Got a rather tall cowboy with all his clothes burned off.” The scene at Big Tex Circle was surreal as his metal skeleton was taken down and a canvas was placed over his charred remains. Big Tex was rebuilt over the summer in San Antonio and hauled back to Dallas in September, ready to greet the crowds on opening day of this year’s fair. You only have a few more days to see the new Big Tex before he spends the off-season in storage. The fair ends on Sunday.

  • A Rangers great retires – or was he forced out? Nolan Ryan, the legendary Hall of Famer known for his incredible fastball, is retiring as the chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers at the end of October, the team announced Thursday afternoon. Last March, the Rangers had stripped Ryan of his team president title, leading many to believe that he would leave the team.Many observers said he was being forced out. Ryan, who played for the Rangers from 1989 to 1993, threw a record seven no-hitters during his Major League career. After Ryan jumped on board in 2008, the Rangers made the playoffs in three consecutive years (2010, 2011 and 2012). The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Randy Galloway says that Ryan was forced out at home. “Fans are left to wonder whether the face of the Rangers franchise is truly, as he said, stepping down for more time with his family and ranching — or whether Thursday was the outcome of a well-documented power struggle between Ryan and Rangers president and general manager Jon Daniels,” The Dallas Morning News reports. A Morning News photographer shares pictures of Nolan through the years.

  • The Nasher comes to a neighborhood near you: One of the biggest art shows of the fall might be taking place in your neighborhood. That’s because 10 public artworks commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center will be open to the public beginning Saturday. The goal of Nasher XChange is for the Nasher to have an impact beyond its downtown space. KERA’s Stephen Becker reportsthat pieces will be located all over town: at Fish Trap Lake in West Dallas, in the Oak Cliff Gardens and Vickery Meadow neighborhoods, as well as at the University of Texas at Dallas and Dallas City Hall. Only one of the pieces – a sound sculpture by New York artist Alfredo Jaar – will actually be located at the Nasher. XChange pieces will be on display through Feb. 16, 2014. XChange was discussed on KERA’s “Think” earlier this week.

  • Dallas’ Arts District will flicker and shine even brighter than usual tonight. The Aurora festival is filling the district for the third year. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that works of art involving lights, computer images, video projections and performances will take over buildings, both inside and out. The goal is to present interactive new media artwork in “exciting and unexpected places.” Aurora 2013 has brought in several European artists, but the vast majority of the nearly 90 participating musicians, dancers, photographers and installation artists are from North Texas.

  • What would Houston and Austin look like if they were flooded? #Drownyourtown: What if climate change caused the sea level to rise so high that it flooded cities in the middle of the country? What would that look like? Andrew David Thaler, a marine biologist, tried that out this week, taking requests via Twitter for cities across the world.  He created quite a stir on Twitter as people used the hashtag #drownyourtown.  Thaler used Google Earth to develop the visualizations. Some looked quite dramatic, including the Statue of Liberty under water. With just a 10-foot increase in sea level, beaches in Santa Cruz, Calif., would be submerged. It would take dramatic increases in sea level to submerge most of Texas.

Here’s what Austin would look like if sea level rose 551 feet (aka sea level rise):

And here’s what Houston would look like if sea level increased 164 feet (aka sea level rise):

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.