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Evacuation Order Lifted For West Texas Fire & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Officials say all evacuation orders have been lifted for a stubborn but remote West Texas wildfire that has burned about 150,000 acres.

The Texas Forest Service said Wednesday residents were cleared to return to an area about 250 miles west of Dallas. Several communities and hundreds of homes were threatened, but the agency lists no structure damage.

A converted DC-10 jetliner that is one of the biggest firefighting planes in the world was used on the Wildcat Fire. Forest service spokeswoman Nicole Hawk says the jet carries up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant.

The agency listed 23 active fires in various stages of containment that have burned a total of slightly more than 1 million acres, or nearly 1,600 square miles. Some have been burning for weeks.

National team managing Possum Kingdom fire

A national team is managing the complex of fires around Possum Kingdom Lake that has burned 150,000 acres and destroyed about 150 homes in the past week.

The team of about 50 people from federal and state agencies took over the fire Wednesday morning in an area about 50 miles west of Fort Worth.

A spokeswoman for the national management team says firefighting teams from across the nation will be brought in to help relieve the teams that have been working on the fire.

Meanwhile, a National Weather Service meteorologist says area conditions are more favorable after a front brought higher humidity, cooler temperatures and calmer winds.

Ogden: School plan would use Rainy Day Fund

The lead Senate budget writer says "a significant portion" of the chamber's plan to ease public school cuts will likely come from the Rainy Day Fund.

Republican Sen. Steve Ogden made the comments while the committee considered a school funding plan that would put $6 billion back into the budget proposal for schools. Schools would still be underfunded by about $4 billion based on current law, but the cuts would be significantly less than the budget approved by the House.

Ogden said the budget committee would discuss using the reserves on Thursday.

The Rainy Day Fund is projected to have a balance of more than $9 billion. Gov. Rick Perry has warned that he wouldn't approve using rainy-day money for the next two-year budget.

New DOT rule tackles fees, bumping, flight delays

Airlines will soon be required to refund bag fees if they lose luggage, and they'll pay travelers more for bumping them from a flight.

The federal government planned to announce new passenger protections Wednesday that also expand a tarmac-delay rule to prevent passengers from being stranded on international lights for longer than four hours.

The airlines will also have to include fees and taxes in advertised prices.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the new regulations, which take effect in late August, were designed to make sure airlines treat travelers fairly.

American Airlines posts huge 1Q loss on fuel costs

American Airlines lost $436 million in the first quarter as it battled rising jet fuel prices, and says it will eliminate some flights late this year.

The airline's results were also hurt by winter storms in the U.S. and a slump in travel to Japan after the earthquake there in March.

American's parent company is AMR Corp. Not counting some one-time costs, its loss was smaller than analysts expected and down from a year ago.

The first quarter is usually the weakest for the airline industry. Analysts predict that United Continental, Delta and several other U.S. airlines also lost money.

Wall Street thinks most airlines will turn profitable by the end of the year, but not AMR.

Dallas-area police searching for woman find body

Police in Plano say they have found a body in a wooded area east of a major highway but won't say whether it is a missing fitness instructor.

Plano police say the body was found Wednesday morning near the Dallas North Tollway in the neighboring suburb of Frisco. Susan Loper, a 41-year-old Frisco resident, was reported missing Tuesday morning from the Plano country club where she works.

Authorities said there were signs of a struggle in the fitness room at Gleneagles Country Club. Her purse and cell phone were at the club and her car was missing from the lot.

Plano police said earlier Wednesday they found the woman's car and had evidence to suggest the case was an aggravated kidnapping.

Suspect held in purse-snatching caught on video

Dallas police have arrested one of two suspects in a purse-snatching incident caught in a widely viewed security video.

Police say 19-year-old Javier Duenas was arrested Tuesday night in Grand Prairie on a charge of aggravated robbery. He remained in jail Wednesday on $250,000 bond. Jail records did not list an attorney.

Police said they issued aggravated robbery warrants Tuesday for Duenas and 20-year-old Thelma Delao. The woman has not yet been located.

The security video of the March 29 theft shows suspects driving to a parking lot, getting out and approaching a woman. The victim is then attacked. The man drags the victim as she struggles to hold on to her bag.

Police say the man had a knife, and the female suspect had a tire jack.

Texas commissioners to mull water flow standards

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is expected to discuss new standards for water flow to bays and rivers on the state's southeast coast.

Some environmental groups say the new rules will reduce water flow so much that they will cripple ecosystems of the bodies of water in question, Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake; as well as the Trinity, San Jacinto, Sabine and Neches Rivers.

But the regulations under consideration grew out of a 2007 law designed to preserve Texas resources while meeting the growing water needs of a booming state population.

Under that law, new rules for the bay, lake and rivers must be adopted by June 1.

The commission meets Wednesday in Austin and can choose to vote on the standards, or wait for a future meeting.