Firefighters battled deadly wildfires which roared across Texas and Oklahoma while rescue workers dug through the rubble after tornadoes cut a swath across Tennessee and Arkansas.
Three people were killed and 32 homes destroyed in Texas as high winds fueled fires which burned 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares) in the Lone Star state and filled the skies with thick clouds of smoke, the Texas Forest Service said.
A former television journalist and his wife were among the dead when their home was engulfed in flames, WFAA news in Dallas reported.
The fires devastated two small towns north of Dallas as high winds and bone dry conditions fueled the flames which raced across parched fields and swallowed homes, the station reported.
Oklahoma's governor declared a state of emergency in 31 counties yesterday after 49 people were injured and 100 homes were destroyed by the fires which flared up on Thursday.
"Our firefighters and first responders have done an outstanding job in the face of daunting fires, and these brave men and women have our heartfelt gratitude. They are true heroes," Governor Brad Henry said.
"But there is much more to do, and the State of Oklahoma will do everything in its power to ensure help for those people who need it most."
Three people were killed and 23 were hurt after a tornado touched down in the town of Mena on Thursday evening, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said.