Historic Texas wildfire consumes over 500,000 acres as blaze rages on

<span>A wildfire rages in Texas on Tuesday.</span><span>Photograph: Greenville Fire-Rescue via Reuters</span>
A wildfire rages in Texas on Tuesday.Photograph: Greenville Fire-Rescue via Reuters

A historic wildfire in Texas continued to rage on Wednesday morning as firefighters work to contain the flames and survey damage.

The Smokehouse Creek fire, the second largest wildfire in Texas to date, has consumed more than 500,000 acres in Texas’s Panhandle area since it ignited on Monday.

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The fire is part of a cluster of blazes that have spun out of control. It is currently at 0% containment, with several Texas counties still evacuated amid growing flames.

Officials were starting to assess the damage and warned it could be extensive. The town of Fritch, with a population of fewer than 2,000 people, appeared to be hit hard.

The people in that area are probably not “prepared for what they’re going to see if they pull into town”, the Hutchinson county emergency management spokesperson, Deidra Thomas, said in a social media live stream. She compared the damage to a tornado.

The town remained unsafe for people to return, she said.

Tresea Rankin videotaped her home in the town of Canadian as it burned.

“Thirty-eight years of memories, that’s what you were thinking,” Rankin said of watching the flames destroy her house. “Two of my kids were married there ... But you know, it’s OK, the memories won’t go away.”

The Smokehouse Creek fire began at 40,000 acres on Tuesday, quickly swelling by Wednesday morning, CNN reported. The fire has burned through an area more than half the size of Rhode Island, CNN further reported.

The fire has largely spread given unseasonably warm temperatures and strong wind, propelling flames through dry, grassy areas.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for several Texas counties on Tuesday afternoon, as Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration. Some counties have had their evacuation orderers lifted as of early Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas, announced on X, formerly known as Twitter.

In addition to the fire damage, more than 4,000 homes in Texas are also without power as of Wednesday morning, poweroutage.us reported.

Texas department of agriculture officials have also warned that the wildfire may have a significant impact on the state’s agriculture industry.

“I am deeply concerned about the devastating wildfires raging through the Texas Panhandle. These fires not only threaten lives and property but also have a significant impact on our agriculture industry,” said the Texas agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, in a post to Facebook.

The main facility that assembles and disassembles America’s nuclear arsenal was also forced to temporarily close on Tuesday as fires raged out of control in the area.

The Pantex site in Amarillo in north Texas reopened on Wednesday, according to an announcement on Facebook. Staff were instructed to return to work for normal shift operations after the plant updated that there was no fire at the plant site, NBC News reported.

“The Pantex Plant is open for normal day shift operations for Wednesday, February 28; all personnel are to report for duty according to their assigned schedule.”

Since 1975, Pantex has been the US main assembly and disassembly site for its atomic bombs. It assembled the last new bomb in 1991. In the time since, it has dismantled thousands of weapons. Pantex is located 30 miles (48km) east of Amarillo.

Associated Press contributed to this report