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News / Nation & World

Largest wildfire in Texas history 100% contained

By Lana Ferguson, The Dallas Morning News
Published: March 17, 2024, 4:23pm

The Smokehouse Creek Fire, which has burned through more than 1 million acres in the Texas Panhandle, is completely contained after a nearly three-week battle.

The blaze, sparked Feb. 26 in Hutchinson County near Stinnett, quickly grew into the largest wildfire in state history and among the largest in U.S. history.

A cluster of wildfires in the region burned across several counties, killing at least two people and destroying hundreds of homes.

Thousands of cattle were also left dead in the region, which is home to more than 80 percent of Texas’ cattle.

The Texas A&M Forest Service announced the final update on the fire Saturday night, saying the inferno covered about 1,058,482 acres and was 100 percent contained.

“All state resources have been released and the fire has transitioned back to the local unit,” read the post on X, formerly Twitter.

The organization also announced that the Windy Deuce Fire, which began in Moore County near Fritch and scorched an estimated 144,045 acres, was 100 percent contained. The inferno ignited hours after the Smokehouse Creek Fire and merged with it days later.

State investigators concluded the Smokehouse Creek and Windy Deuce fires were ignited by power lines, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Minnesota-based utility provider Xcel Energy said in a March 7 statement that its facilities appeared to have been involved in igniting the Smokehouse Creek Fire. In the same statement, the company said it did not believe its facilities played a role in the Windy Deuce Fire.

Hundreds of firefighters and other first responders spent almost three weeks attempting to contain the blazes. At one point there were 14 state and 45 local agencies taking part in the disaster response.

Gov. Greg Abbott visited Borger with Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd while the fires were still burning to meet with local officials. They discussed what resources were immediately needed but also what could be done in the future to prevent the fires or enable quicker responses when one does begin.