Sunday, April 14, 2024

Firefighters are facing a big Texas wildfire, dealing with strong winds and hot weather. People are struggling with their homes being lost

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A really big fire is happening in Texas, and it’s getting worse because of strong winds and hot weather. It’s been going on for almost a week, burning over 1 million acres. This is the biggest fire ever in Texas, and they’ve only controlled a small part of it. The fire has already killed two people, destroyed over 500 buildings, and left some without electricity.

The weather conditions are making it easy for the fire to grow quickly. Another fire started recently, and they had to tell people to leave a town, but firefighters are trying to stop it. They expect to see smoke and flames for a while.

Because Texas had more rain than usual this winter, there’s more grass to burn. The firefighters hope they can get control of the fires soon, especially after this weekend. The weather will stay hot for a bit longer.

Recent Updates:
• Officials are working to find places where fires are starting: Fire officials used planes and helicopters to deal with new fires over the weekend. They even used a special flight with heat detectors to find more places where fires might start, as explained by Brod.

• Four more fires are happening: In Moore County, the Windy Deuce Fire has burned 144,000 acres and is 55% controlled as of Sunday evening. The Grape Vine Creek Fire in Gray County has spread across nearly 35,000 acres and is 60% under control. The Magenta Fire in Oldham County has damaged 3,297 acres and is 85% under control. Also, the 687 Reamer fire in Hutchinson County has affected 2,000 acres and is 10% under control.

• Two people have died: Cindy Owen, a truck driver working north of Pampa, Texas, got caught in the Smokehouse Creek Fire and died. Joyce Blankenship, an 83-year-old from Hutchinson County, also died in the fire.

• The fires are hurting the cattle industry: The Panhandle, where 85% of the state’s cattle industry is located, is being hit hard. Many cattle have died, along with other animals, crops, and equipment.

• Oklahoma is doing well against the Smokehouse fire: The Smokehouse Creek Fire near the Texas border in Oklahoma is looking better. It will be mostly under control by the end of the day, according to Keith Merckx from Oklahoma Forestry Services.

• How you can help: GoFundMe has set up a platform to support verified fundraisers for people affected by the wildfires in Texas. Money is being collected for Texans who lost homes, belongings, and animals. Hemphill County, where 400,000 acres burned and a truck driver died, is accepting wildlife relief supplies and money donations. In Fritch, CCS Connect Community Services is taking monetary donations for residents.

A family looks through the remains of their home after it burned down. Susan and Ronnie Johnson’s big house in Fritch turned into ashes. The stuff left included a table, white fancy plates, red and blue pots, chairs, and a smoker. It was all mixed with dust, broken things, and fallen trees.

In California, a fire called the Rabbit Fire burned over 7,500 acres in Moreno Valley, Riverside County on July 15, 2023. The weather was crazy hot, and a lot of Americans were in trouble because of it. The National Weather Service said it would be a super hot and dangerous weekend. The temperature could go up to 116 Fahrenheit (47 degrees celsius).

Ronnie said to CNN, “You never think it’ll be your house that burns. We’ve seen other people go through it, so we’ll rebuild and start over.”

Susan said losing her home felt like a shock, but she won’t forget the memories of the 20 years her family lived there with seven other people.

Tyler McCain’s family home in Fritch also burned down. When he saw the fire getting close before they left, he didn’t know if their house would still be there when they came back.

McCain told CNN’s Danny Freeman that it didn’t feel real until he saw his house.

Gov. Greg Abbott shared how severe the damage was at a news conference on Friday. He said that usually, you can still see some parts of a structure after damage, but in this case, everything was completely gone. He described it as utter devastation with only ashes left on the ground.

The losses for farmers have been ‘devastating.’ State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller asked for hay and feed donations and prayers for those who lost homes and livestock in the big fire. He mentioned that more than 500 structures were lost and that the death toll for livestock is expected to increase significantly.

Miller explained the challenges, saying there’s no grass or water for the livestock. Over 3,000 animals have been lost, and the number is expected to double or triple easily. Some cattle will have to be euthanized due to damage to their hooves and udders.

Miller mentioned that seven businesses dealing with grains and seeds in the state have suffered severe losses, losing everything they had.

“There’s a lot of damage here,” Miller stated.

Hemphill County has already reported more than a thousand cattle missing or dead, along with several horses, goats, and sheep. Miller mentioned in a news release on Friday that these numbers are likely to increase as the fire subsides and assessments can be made in Hemphill County and other affected areas.

Andy Holloway from Hemphill County AgriLife Extension told CNN on Sunday that the ranchers’ cattle have been significantly affected, which will impact the nation’s beef supply in the future.

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