Texan Panhandle Wildfire Becomes Largest In State’s History Texan Panhandle Wildfire Becomes Largest In State's History

TEXAS (NCC News/AP) – A wildfire spreading across the Texas Panhandle became the largest in state history Thursday, growing to nearly 1,700 square miles (4,400 square kilometers) of scorched rural ranchlands and destroyed homes.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire has merged with another blaze and is 3% contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The fire’s explosive growth slowed as snow fell and winds and temperatures dipped, but it was still untamed and threatening more death and destruction. It is the largest of several major fires burning in the rural Panhandle section of the state. It has also crossed into Oklahoma.

Firefighters have made little progress controlling the flames, but Thursday’s forecast of snow, rain and temperatures in the 40s offered a window to make progress in containing the wildfire. Authorities have not said what ignited the fires, but strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm temperatures fed the blazes.

Little snow is expected, but moisture isn’t the only positive, said National Weather Service meteorologist Samuel Scoleri.

“It will help keep relative humidity down for the day, and that will definitely help firefighters,” Scoleri said.

As of right now there is only one confirmed death. Since the fire is still active, authorities have not been able to search for victims.



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