Largest wildfire in Texas burns approximately 1,700 square miles and 500 structures (and counting)
03/04/2024 // Kevin Hughes // Views

The largest wildfire in Texas history has burned down approximately 500 structures and at least 1,700 square miles in the Texas Panhandle and neighboring areas.

Known as the Smokehouse Creek fire, the wildfire that started on Feb. 26 killed two people and left a burned landscape of charred prairie, dead cattle and burned-out homes. (Related: Southern California's "Highland Fire" burns over 2,400 acres of land, forces more than 4,000 people to evacuate.)

The cause of the fire is still unknown, although strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm weather certainly fed the flames. "When you look at the damages that have occurred here it's just gone, completely gone nothing left but ashes on the ground," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a news conference in Borger, Texas.

Abbott lauded what he called a "heroic" response from "fearless" firefighters who worked to contain the fires as 14 state agencies and 45 local agencies battled the inferno and assisted in recovery.

"It would have been far worse and far more damaging not just to property but to people, but for those firefighters," Abbott said.

The National Weather Service forecast for the following days warns of strong winds, comparatively low humidity and dry conditions that present a "significant" wildfire threat. "No one can let down their guard. Everyone must remain very vigilant," Abbott said.

In the hard-hit town of Stinnett, which has a population of about 1,600, families who evacuated because of the Smokehouse Creek fire returned Thursday, Feb. 29, to horrific scenes that include melted street signs, scorched frames of cars and trucks, and homes reduced to heaps of ash and rubble.

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Smokehouse Creek fire crosses into Oklahoma

The Smokehouse Creek fire has crossed into Oklahoma and has combined with another fire, the Texas A&M Forest Service announced Friday, March 1.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said individual ranchers could suffer disastrous losses because of the fires, but estimated the overall effect on the Texas cattle industry and consumer beef prices would be minimal.

Two women were killed by the fires. According to Sgt. Chris Ray of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Cindy Owen was driving in Hemphill County south of Canadian on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 27, when she faced fire or smoke. Owen went out of her truck, and flames overwhelmed her.

A passerby discovered Owen and called first responders, who took her to a burn unit in Oklahoma. Ray stated that Owen died Thursday morning.

The other victim was identified by family members as 83-year-old Joyce Blankenship, a former substitute teacher. Her grandson, Lee Quesada, said deputies told his uncle Wednesday, Feb. 28, that they had discovered Blankenship's remains in her burned home.

Abbott had issued a disaster declaration for 60 Texas counties in response to the widespread wildfire. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said the weekend forecast and "sheer size and scope" of the blaze are the largest challenges for firefighters.

Follow for more news about wildfires happening in America.

Watch the video below to know more about the half a million acres burned in Texas recently.

This video is from the HaloRock™ channel on

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