Crews battle Texas wildfires that have burned 1 million acres

  • A new blaze — the Roughneck fire — remains at zero percent contained
  • The Smokehouse Creek fire has burned 1 million acres, only 15% contained
  • Two have died, thousands of livestock lost, over 500 structures destroyed

(NewsNation) — The fight to suppress the wildfires in the Texas Panhandle continued Monday.

Evacuations are underway in the small town of Sanford, where a new blaze — the Roughneck fire — remains at zero percent contained.

Several other wildfires continue to burn throughout the Panhandle and parts of Oklahoma, while cleanup efforts are underway for some residents who are still grasping the scope of the damage already done.

Officials said the Roughneck fire began over the weekend and is stretched at about 100 acres as of Monday morning. Firefighters have been working nonstop to try to suppress the flames.

Texas A&M Forest Service released a video over the weekend of a large air tanker making a retardant drop on the Smokehouse Creek fire, the largest wildfire in the state’s history.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Smokehouse Creek fire burned more than 1 million acres and was 15% contained. Two other fires that have burned a combined 180,000 acres were 60% contained.

Authorities have not said what ignited the fires, but strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm temperatures fed the blazes.

Gov. Greg Abbott said around 500 structures have been destroyed. The fire has also killed two people and left behind a desolate landscape of scorched prairie, dead cattle and burned-out homes in the Texas Panhandle.

Humanitarian groups are rushing to the area to try to help people who have lost their homes and livelihoods, particularly ranchers who lost livestock and supplies to the fires.

Officials do not know the exact number of cattle that have died but there are some estimates in the thousands.

Some organizations are collecting bales of hay so the ranchers can feed horses and cattle. Some farmers have driven from hundreds of miles away just to drop off hay and other donations to those who have been hit by the blaze.

“We always come together. This is just one thing we do to help out everybody,” said Jared Self, a 37-year-old farmer from Graham, Texas. “I mean, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you’re in need, it’s God-given, it’s what happens. People give.”

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the federal government has devoted funds, equipment and personnel to assist with battling the fires, but he warned more extreme weather could be coming.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued red flag warnings — signifying extreme fire risk due to warm temperatures, low humidity and strong winds — across much of the central U.S., including Texas and its neighboring states of New Mexico and Oklahoma.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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