STRAWN, Texas -- Wearing a soot-tinged yellow and green fire uniform, John Garrett devoured two hot dogs in four bites.
The firefighter from Arizona took a long swig from a water bottle and grabbed a plastic sack full of water, sliced white bread and corn chips for crew members still battling unrelenting Texas wildfires Monday northwest of this Palo Pinto County town.
"It's brutal," said Garrett, 32, who arrived Sunday in Texas. "The temperature is high; it's just so hot that it's roasting out there."
Garrett, who had stopped by the command post operating out of the Strawn volunteer Fire Department, and more than 1,000 other firefighters from 35 states have descended on the state to fight fires that have destroyed homes and scorched acres west of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Many of the out-of-state firefighters are from Utah, Arizona and California.
About 100 yards from a wildfire northwest of Strawn, firefighters from the Santa Clara Fire Department in Utah burned foliage to create a fire break.
"It's a little different in Texas," Ty Hansen said, sweating in his gear. "Just some crazy fire behavior."
Battling exhaustion, sunburn and searing temperatures in the mid-90s, firefighters worked 15-hour shifts as they struggled to control the flames, which a Texas Forest Service official said "were only getting worse" Monday afternoon.
Fueled by drought, low humidity and unseasonably hot weather, three fires southwest of Possum Kingdom Lake had merged into one, and another fire east of the lake continued to burn, Forest Service spokesman Dwight Dold said. The fires have burned in Eastland, Stephens, Palo Pinto and Young counties.
A DC-10 air tanker and four other airplanes joined the fight Monday by dropping water and flame retardant.
The Forest Service was managing 1,250 firefighters, Dold said. That doesn't count the many local volunteer firefighters in the field, officials said.
A typical shift is 12 hours, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but firefighters work longer hours during critical threats. Garrett said his first shift in Texas was 15 1aN2 hours Sunday. Afterward, he and other firefighters in his crew went to Strawn High School, where they slept on air mattresses in the gymnasium.
"We were off for 7 1aN2 hours," said Garrett, who usually works in Tonto National Forest in Arizona. "You don't sleep that long," maybe four or five hours. "I haven't been here long enough to be exhausted yet. But we're probably not leaving anytime soon."
The Forest Service has established base camps in counties with large fires, usually at schools that have locker rooms where firefighters can shower, fire officials said.
If large cities are nearby, some firefighters sleep in hotels, they said.
The wildfires brought firefighters from national private companies, too. Scott McVey, a former California Forest Service firefighter who works for Capstone Fire Management in San Diego, and another firefighter drove their engine from California, arriving Monday morning. An insurance company that covers about 40 homes near Possum Kingdom Lake hired them to treat the homes with water and flame-retardant gel.
"We're used to these conditions though -- low humidity, hot weather, winds," said McVey, waiting on a bench outside the fire station. "That describes San Diego for you. As soon as we get the 'OK,' we'll be in there."