A series of wildfires have scorched large parts of the Texas Panhandle (Credit: NWCG.org/ Public Domain)

Firefighters in Texas are battling a number of wildfires in the state's northernmost area called the Panhandle. The destructive blazes have scorched over a million acres, killed thousands of cattle, and charred crops. The fires have burned over 500 structures, melted lamp posts, and split power lines in half. Two residents have been killed, four firefighters injured, and thousands evacuated.

"When you look at the damages that have occurred here, it's just completely gone, nothing left but ashes on the ground," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. "Those who are affected by this have gone through utter devastation."

A satellite image of the area burned down by the Smokehouse Creek Fire (Credit: NASA.gov/ Public Domain)

The most damaging of the blazes is the Smokehouse Creek Fire. It began on February 26, 2024, near Canadian, a ranching town of 2,200 residents. The dry weather, tall grasses and 70 mph (112 kph) wind gusts helped spread the flames rapidly to the east and then to the south. As of March 7, 2024, the fire has spread across multiple counties in the northeastern Texas Panhandle and even spilled into western Oklahoma.

"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 US history."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. However, on March 4, 2024, a Canadian resident who lost her home to the blaze asserted that it was ignited by a broken utility pole. On March 7, 2024, Xcel Energy, which powers homes in the area, admitted its equipment may have played a part in starting the blaze. Regardless of how it began, the focus remains on putting out the fire, which is currently only about 44 percent contained. This means that 44 percent of the fire is enclosed by a physical barrier to stop it from spreading.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire is the biggest in the state's history (Credit: NWCG.org/ Public Domain)

Meanwhile, Texans are doing everything they can to help people displaced by the blaze. They are donating money, food, and clothes. Additionally, Governor Abbott has assured full assistance to the residents impacted by the deadly fires.

"As Texas experiences the largest wildfire in the history of our state, we remain ready to deploy every available resource to ensure communities in the Panhandle have the help they need to stay safe and work their way towards recovery," he said on March 5, 2024. We will continue to work around-the-clock to ensure Texans who have lost everything have the support they need to rebuild and recover."

Stay Strong, Texas!

Resources: texastribune.org, texas.gov, cbnews.com, wikipedia.org