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Texas wildfires: Second largest fire in state history burns 500,000 acres

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Raging wildfires engulf Texas panhandle

Multiple wildfires are spreading across the Texas Panhandle, so far burning 580,000 acres of land, prompting massive evacuations and forcing a major nuclear weapons plant to shut down.

The northernmost Smokehouse Creek fire is 0 per cent contained as of early Wednesday morning and is estimated to be 500,000 acres, making it the second-largest blaze in state history. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties on Tuesday as the fire doubled in size in a single day.

Meanwhile, the smaller Grape Vine Creek fire is 60 per cent contained, while the Magenta fire is 40 per cent contained.

The 687 Reamer and Windy Deuce remain at 10 per cent and 20 per cent containment, respectively.

In Potter County, the spread of the Windy Deuce fire caused the Pantex Plant – which is America’s main facility for assembling and disassembling nuclear weapons – to briefly close operations on Tuesday night. The plant resumed normal operations Wednesday morning.

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Dry and windy conditions amid unseasonably warm temperatures fuelled these fires. Drought conditions are not contributing — much of the panhandle has no drought, with portions of the western panhandle considered “abnormally dry” or in “moderate drought.”

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Smokehouse Creek fire is second-largest in Texas history

The Smokehouse Creek fire burning in the northern Texas panhandle is the second-largest blaze in state history, according to data from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The blaze doubled in size on Tuesday, burning more than 500,000 acres at zero per cent containment as of Wednesday afternoon. The largest fire in state history burned just over 900,000 acres.

The Smokehouse Creek fire is now just over half the size of Rhode Island — which takes up over 700,000 acres — and is 11 times the size of the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

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Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 19:20

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SEE IT: Texas fires bring devastation to Panhandle communities

Smouldering remains in Canadian Texas on 28 February 2024

(AP)

The burnt remains of a vehicle near a home in Canadian, Texas

(REUTERS)

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A burnt, destroyed home pictured in Canadian, Texas

(REUTERS)

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 19:00

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Firefighters continue to contain Windy Deuce fire

The Windy Deuce fire, which prompted the brief shutdown of America’s major nuclear weapons plant on Tuesday night, is now 25 per cent contained.

That’s up 5 percentage points from earlier today as fire crews work to contain the five fires in the Texas panhandle.

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The largest blaze, the Smokehouse Creek fire, is still 0 per cent contained as of Wednesday afternoon.

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 18:40

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SEE IT: Satellite footage of fires scorching Texas, northwestern Oklahoma

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 18:20

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WATCH: Raging wildfires engulf Texas Panhandle

Raging wildfires engulf Texas Panhandle

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 18:00

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Smokehouse Creek fire moves into Oklahoma

The second-largest fire in Texas has now moved into northwestern Oklahoma, causing evacuations and destruction in the towns of Gage and Shattuck, local outlet KOCO reports.

The fire has already scorched 100,000 acres in Oklahoma, on top of the hundreds of thousands of acres already burned in Texas.

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 17:40

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Map of Pantex, America’s major nuclear weapons plant

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 17:20

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ICYMI: Chinook helicopter with firefighting capability deployed to help fires

A CH47 Chinook helicopter with firefighting capability flown by members of the Texas National Guard was among the measures deployed to fight the wildfires on Tuesday, accordint to the state Governor’s office.

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In addition, over 95 firefighters, heavy equipment such as bulldozers and motor graders from thte Texas A&M Forest Service were deployed, as well as all Hazard Incident Management Team personnel, and five Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System strike teams comprising of over 95 personnel and over 25 fire engines.

Mike Bedigan28 February 2024 17:01

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Texas wildfires: Map of blazes ravaging the Panhandle

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 16:40

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What fuelled the Texas fires?

Dry and windy conditions amid unseasonably warm temperatures created the perfect conditions for wildfires to develop.

The National Weather Service forecasted wind gusts reaching 65 miles per hour on Tuesday, as well as “very dry” grass conditions. Conditions are looking up for Wednesday, with weak winds and cooler temperatures, the NWS said.

Strangely enough, drought conditions are not contributing — much of the panhandle has no drought, with just small portions of the western panhandle considered “abnormally dry” or in “moderate drought.”

Katie Hawkinson28 February 2024 16:20



Source: Independent

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