Texas Fights Largest Wildfire | God's World News

Texas Fights Huge Wildfire

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    Firefighters battle the Smokehouse Creek Fire north of Canadian, Texas. (AP/David Erickson)
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    A helicopter returns from dumping water on hotspots from the Smokehouse Creek Fire. (AP/David Erickson)
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    Firefighters pick through rubble of burned homes in Stinnett, Texas. (AP/Ty O’Neil)
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    The Smokehouse Creek Fire has caused extensive damage to homes and property. (AP/Julio Cortez)
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A dusting of snow last Thursday gave firefighters brief relief in their efforts to corral a blaze in the Texas Panhandle. The Smokehouse Creek fire has ravaged more than one million acres of land since it started on February 26. The inferno has also crossed into Oklahoma. The Texas A&M Forest Service reported on Friday the flames were 5% contained.

Texas is in the midst of its natural fire season, which runs from January through May. But the Smokehouse Creek fire is the largest in Texas history. Several smaller wildfires are also burning in the region. Authorities have not said what ignited the fires. Strong winds, dry grass, and unseasonably warm temperatures feed them.

Firefighters welcomed the snow, but doused smoldering wreckage to keep it from reigniting. Forecasters expected temperatures and winds to increase over the weekend.

Jeremiah Kaslon is a resident of Stinnett, Texas. He says, “Around here, . . . we get all four seasons in a week. It can be hot, hot and windy, and it will be snowing the next day. It’s just that time of year.”

Kaslon’s home town was hard hit. Stinnett’s roughly 1,600 people had to evacuate. They returned on Thursday to find melted street signs and charred frames of cars and trucks. While Kaslon’s property was spared, many of his neighbors’ homes are now piles of ash and rubble.

Tragically, the inferno has killed two people. The flames leave behind a desolate landscape of scorched prairie. Estimates say that thousands of cows have died.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties and planned to visit the Panhandle on Friday.

President Joe Biden was in Texas on Thursday to visit the U.S.-Mexico border. He directed federal officials to do “everything possible” to assist fire-affected communities, including sending firefighters and equipment. He says the Federal Emergency Management Agency guarantees Texas and Oklahoma will be reimbursed for their emergency costs.

Lee Haygood owns a ranch about 25 miles southeast of Canadian, Texas. He had a few hours warning of the approaching wildfire. Haygood moved his herd of 200 Hereford bulls and penned them in a wheat field. He hoped that the green plants would resist the fire.

“We didn’t lose any cattle, but we lost 75% of our grassland,” he says. He wonders how he will feed his livestock, and predicts it will take a full growing season for the grass to return.

In response, fellow ranchers started sending semi-tractors full of hay and meal to his ranch. “We are truly blessed,” he says.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. — Galatians 6:2