Wildfires in Texas Grow to One of Largest in the US State’s History
Published: Feb 29, 2024 04:54 PM
The blaze has become the second largest in Texas' history and is projected to grow as just 3% of its flames have been contained.

The US state of Texas suffered a devastating loss as a group of wildfires scorched the Texas Panhandle on Wednesday. The wildfire, which first ignited on Monday, has raged across 850,000 acres—larger than the US state of Rhode Island—becoming one of the largest fires ever seen in the state.

The fire, which moved quickly, consumed small towns and cattle ranches.

The blaze is being referred to as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, and has covered more than 1,300 square miles (3,370 square kilometers) and traveled into parts of the US state of Oklahoma which it borders. Officials have encouraged those in Roger Mills County (western Oklahoma) to evacuate.

Fueled by strong winds, unseasonably high temperatures and dry conditions, the blaze is projected to grow as only 3% of the flames have been contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. Wind conditions on Thursday are expected to be lighter, which could help firefighters battling the fire, though heavy winds and dry conditions are expected to return on Friday.

The blaze first spread around the cattle-filled town of Canadian which holds a population of 2,200 people northeast of Amarillio, close to the state line of Oklahoma.

More than 13,000 homes and businesses in Texas were without power as of Wednesday morning, and more than 4,000 of those in the Panhandle region alone, according to

According to a spokesperson for the Forest Service, about 200 firefighters were on the ground, working across the Panhandle fighting several wildfires, though most were focused on the Smokehouse Creek Fire.

At least one death has been linked to the wildfires, though further details were not made available.

A cattle rancher, whose family owns a 30,000 acre cattle ranch in Roberts County, said he had been fighting the fire for “two days straight”. He told a New York newspaper that nearly all of his land had burned, however, the buildings were saved. He added that some of his cattle survived the fire, but sadly, not all of them made it out alive.

The wildfire was reportedly burning north of the Plantex plant, near Amarillo, that is responsible for disassembling nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, the plant suspended their operations but reopened on Wednesday. Despite no reports of fire being near the plant, safety officials responded anyway, according to a nuclear safety engineer for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The largest wildfire in Texas history, prior to this week’s blaze, was the East Amarillo Complex fire in 2006 having burned about a million acres, which resulted in 13 deaths.