UPDATED: Texas, Oklahoma battling large wildfires

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

UPDATED: Texas, Oklahoma battling large wildfires

Multiple counties across Texas and Oklahoma are battling several large wildfires after dry conditions, above-normal temperatures and increased wind speeds this week resulted in increased risk of wildfire activity.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire in Texas is the largest, has burned 850,000 acres and is 0% contained as of Wednesday evening. It is also the second-largest wildfire ever in the history of the state. Other active wildfires in the Texas Panhandle include the Windy Deuce Fire, which has burned 90,000 acres and is 25% contained, and the Grape Vine Creek Fire, which has burned 30,000 acres and is now 60% contained.

Texas A&M Forest Service reported Wednesday morning that fire behavior had moderated with decreased winds but that fires were still actively burning.

Much of the impact remains unknown at this point, but numerous social media posts, particularly from ranchers in the region, showed active livestock rescue efforts as the fire ravaged the landscape.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller expressed deep concern about the wildfires in a Tuesday evening social media post. “These fires not only threaten lives and property but also have a significant impact on our agriculture industry. We stand in solidarity with our farmers and ranchers facing loss and destruction. Our thoughts are with them during this challenging time, and we're committed to supporting their recovery efforts every step of the way," he stated.

Governor Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration for 60 Texas counties in response to widespread wildfire activity. He also directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to activate additional state emergency response resources to support local firefighters responding to multiple wildfires burning Texas.

“The State of Texas stands ready to provide support to our local partners and deploy all resources needed to protect our fellow Texans and their property. Hot and dry conditions caused by high temperatures and windy conditions are expected to continue in the region in the coming days. These conditions could increase the potential for these wildfires to grow larger and more dangerous,” Abbott stated. “Texans are urged to limit activities that could create sparks and take precautions to keep their loved ones safe."

He thanked firefighters and first responders who are working tirelessly to protect their fellow Texans.

Meanwhile in neighboring Oklahoma, crews are battling several active wildfires that currently have burned over 115,000 acres. In a Feb. 28 update, the Oklahoma Forestry Service reported that the Slapout Fire in Beaver County has burned 76,800 acres and is 0% contained. Also 0 % contained, the Catesby Fire in Ellis County has burned 30,000 acres. The E1980 Rd Fire in Choctaw County has burned through 5,535 acres and is 40% contained as of Wednesday. The Sand Creek Fire has burned 2,385 acres and is 75% contained.

Despite much cooler temperatures and reduced wind speeds through the affected regions, fire danger remains a concern given very dry conditions and low relative humidity values. Another round of escalating fire danger is expected during the weekend ahead as temperatures are forecast to once again rise.

Donations urged

While the current impact to agriculture is unknown, Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is urging donors to give to the TSCRA Disaster Relief Fund to aid victims of the ongoing natural disasters.

“A fire is one of the most tragic events that can impact ranches, and a natural disaster such as the widespread wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma can result in financial hardships and deep impacts to our ranching communities,” said TSCRA President Arthur Uhl. “Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is here to help through means of financial assistance and we’re encouraging those who can to donate to the TSCRA Disaster Relief Fund.”

For more information, including how to donate and how to apply for funding visit tscra.org/disaster-relief-fund/ or contact TSCRA at 800-242-7820. Additional resources for victims impacted by these wildfires are also available tscra.org/disaster-relief-fund/ .

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