Texas battling largest wildfire in its history

Agence France-Presse
Texas battling largest wildfire in its history
his handout picture courtesy of the Flower Mound Fire Department taken on February 27, 2024, shows a fire truck driving towards the Smokehouse Creek Fire, near Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle.
Flower Mound Fire Department / AFP

HOUSTON, Texas — Texas emergency crews were struggling Thursday to contain the largest wildfire in the US state's history, with the blaze leaving at least one person dead and scorching a million acres as it raged out of control.

The Texas A&M Forest Service said six major fires, fueled by winter heat and ferocious winds, were actively burning, five of them across the state's northern area known as the Texas panhandle.

The largest, the Smokehouse Creek Fire, started on Monday, grew to a record 1,075,000 acres (435,000 hectares) in size, and was just three percent contained, the forest service said.

With Smokehouse Creek merging with another blaze, it has now become the state's largest-ever wildfire, surpassing the East Amarillo Complex disaster that torched 907,000 acres in 2006.

While preventive evacuations were ordered across multiple localities, the body of an 83-year-old woman was found in the city of Stinnett, a Hutchinson County emergency services spokesperson, Deidra Thomas, told ABC News.

She also said about 20 structures in Stinnett had been razed by the fire.

Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for 60 Texas counties, a move that frees up resources to battle the fires.

President Joe Biden, while visiting the southern border, told reporters that 500 federal personnel were working on fire suppression in Texas.

"I directed my team to do everything possible to help protect the people in the communities threatened by these fires," Biden said, promising federal support to Texas and neighboring Oklahoma while also slamming those who deny climate change.

"I love some of my Neanderthal friends who still think there's no climate change," he said.

Cities across the United States and Canada saw record temperatures in February, with some experiencing summer-like heat. An El Nino weather pattern is at play, in addition to climate change, according to experts.

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