Texas fire live updates: Dry weather and strong winds threatened to intensify state’s largest ever wildfire

Snow in area affected by Texas wildfires

The Smokehouse Creek Fire has extended to nearly 1.1 million acres across the Texas Panhandle, becoming the “largest and most destructive” in state history – as dry weather and strong winds expected this weekend could intensify the blaze.

“This is now both the largest and most destructive fire in Texas history,” the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department wrote on Facebook. “It is also the second largest wildfire in U.S. history.”

The fires have killed at least two people, with authorities worried about more casualties as a thorough search for victims was yet to be conducted.

Joyce Blankenship, 83, was found dead in her destroyed Hutchinson County home, officials said. On Thursday it was confirmed that a second woman – Cindy Owens – had succumbed to her injuries after getting out of her truck and being severely burned.

“Critical fire weather conditions are expected to return midday Saturday and once again after sunrise Sunday,” the National Weather Service for Amarillo said. “Please refrain entirely from outdoor activities that generate sparks or flames.”

The fire has burned 1,078,086 acres, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service, and is more than five times the size of New York City.


Drone footage shows massive fire south of panhandle wildfires

Drone footage posted online shows a massive fire at a junkyard in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Grand Prairie is several hours southeast of the panhandle fires which have spread to 1.1 million acres.

Andrea Cavallier2 March 2024 15:20


Fires destroy 400 to 500 structures so far

At a news conference on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the destruction from the fires doesn’t compare to the aftermath of other natural disasters.

“When you look at the damages that have occurred here, it’s just gone, completely gone, nothing left but ashes on the ground, so those who are affected by this have gone through utter devastation,” Gov Abbott said. “They are going through challenges that others cannot comprehend.”

About 400 to 500 structures have so far been destroyed in the fires, Gov Abbott confirmed.

Andrea Cavallier2 March 2024 15:00


Fire in Texas is ‘largest and most destructive’ in state history

“This is now both the largest and most destructive fire in Texas history,” the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department wrote on Facebook. “It is also the second largest wildfire in U.S. history.”

Andrea Cavallier2 March 2024 14:40


ICYMI: Watch as plane flies over apocalyptic wildfire raging in Texas

Plane flies over apocalyptic wildfire raging in Texas near nuclear weapons facility

Katie Hawkinson2 March 2024 14:00


Previous prescribed burns helped limit flames this week

An official with the Hutchinson County, Texas Office of Emergency Services said prescribed burning helped prevent this week’s fires from becoming worse.

“You can see where we did our prescribed burns previously, how, thankfully, our wildland team did that, because that saved a lot of people’s properties,” the spokesperson said on a Facebook live video. “I know we couldn’t save everything.”

Late last year, Texas officials conducted a prescribed burn in Hutchinson County, which prevented this week’s fires from spreading into the southern parts of the town of Borger, CNN reports.

Prescribed burns are fires intentionally set in controlled areas to destroy fire fuels like dried-out grass and leaves. Indigenous communities have used this practice for millennia and have long advocated for the US government to adopt it in fire-vulnerable areas.

Katie Hawkinson2 March 2024 13:00


Weather conditions favourable for wildfires forecasted in several states

The National Weather Service is forecasting strong winds and low humidity in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico this weekend.

These factors are favourable for wildfires and resemble the weather conditions in the Texas Panhandle earlier this week when the Smokehouse Creek fire — the largest in state history — first sparked.

The National Weather Service is forecasting conditions favourable to wildfires this weekend

(National Weather Service)

Katie Hawkinson2 March 2024 12:00


ICYMI: Nuclear weapon factory forced to evacuate as Texas wildfires threatened plant earlier this week

The Windy Deuce fire is still burning 142,000 acres at 55 per cent containment as of Friday afternoon.

Katie Hawkinson2 March 2024 11:00


Charred homes, blackened earth after Texas town revisited by destructive wildfire 10 years later

The small town of Fritch is again picking through the rubble of a Texas wildfire, a decade after another destructive blaze burned hundreds of homes and left deep scars in the Panhandle community.

Residents in and around Fritch and other rural towns fled for safety Tuesday afternoon as high winds whipped the flames into residential areas and through cattle ranches.

Fritch Mayor Tom Ray said on Wednesday the town’s northern edge was hit by a devastating wildfire in 2014, while this week’s blaze burned mostly to the south of the town, sparing the residents who live in the heart of the community.

“I said, ‘Oh Lord, please don’t come down the middle,’” Ray said.

Associated Press2 March 2024 09:00


See the latest maps of the Texas wildfires burning more than 1m acres

Katie Hawkinson2 March 2024 07:00


Hemphill County ranchers have lost thousands of cattle to the Texas Panhandle fires.

“It’s been a rough day in Hemphill County, massive losses of ranch land (over 400,000 acres in Hemphill County alone), scores of homes destroyed, literally thousands of cattle lost and much more than can be described,” an official with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for the county said.

A 120-year-old cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle lost about 80 per cent of its land to the fires this week, the managers of the Turkey Track Ranch said in a statement.

“Our early assessment estimates that The Turkey Track Ranch has suffered and lost approximately 80 % of our pastures, plains, and creek bottom vegetation,” the statement read. “We continue to assess the total damage to other infrastructure and the loss of livestock.”

Snow covers a scorched landscape and a cow who died amid the blaze in Fritch, Texas


Katie Hawkinson2 March 2024 05:01

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