Second person dies as Texas wildfires become biggest blaze in state’s history

A second death has been confirmed in the raging wildfires in Texas that have become the biggest blaze in the state’s history.

Cindy Owens, believed to be in her 40s, from Amarillo City in Potter County was confirmed dead by officials on Thursday.

Follow our liveblog for the latest on Texas wildfires.

She was driving in Texas‘s Hemphill County — south of Canadian, Texas — and got out of the truck for an unknown reason and “the fire simply overtook her”, according to Sergeant Chris Ray of the Texas Department of Public Safety told NBC.

Owens sustained severe burn injuries. A passerby stopped and helped her and called 911. She was taken to a burn unit in Oklahoma City but died on Thursday morning.

“We still don’t know why she got out of her truck,” Sergeant Ray told NBC.

Before Owens, 83-year-old Joyce Blankenship was found dead in her destroyed Hutchinson County home, officials said.

She was a beloved mother, grandmother and former substitute teacher, say her relatives.

Blankenship’s grandson, Lee Quesada, told the Associated Press that local deputies told his uncle they had found her remains in her burned home on Wednesday.

More than a dozen other homes in her town were destroyed by the fires.

Fire officials from Lubbock, Texas, help put out smouldering debris of a home destroyed by the Smokehouse Creek Fire (AP)
Fire officials from Lubbock, Texas, help put out smouldering debris of a home destroyed by the Smokehouse Creek Fire (AP)

The wildfires spreading across the Texas Panhandle have burned more than 1.2m acres of land, prompting evacuations and destroying dozens of homes

The Smokehouse Creek fire is now the largest in state history, burning 1,075,000 acres, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

It is now the second-largest fire in US history, local fire officials said, and more than five times the size of New York City.

Dry and windy conditions amid unseasonably warm temperatures fuelled these fires.

President Joe Biden, who was in Texas on Thursday to visit the US-Mexico border, said he directed federal officials to do “everything possible” to assist fire-affected communities, including sending firefighters and equipment.

“When disasters strike, there’s no red states or blue states where I come from,” Mr Biden said. “Just communities and families looking for help.”

“So we’re standing with everyone affected by these wildfires and we’re going to continue to help you respond and recover.