Texas wildfire: Devastating blaze rips through state with one person dead - horrific pictures

Texas wildfire: Devastating blaze rips through state with one person dead - horrific pictures

Video from fire crews showed apocalyptic scenes by roads in Texas

Fort Worth Fire Department
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 29/02/2024

- 15:31

Updated: 29/02/2024

- 16:10

‘We couldn’t get out… your eyes and throat burned’ said one resident who tried to flee

One person has died, whole towns have been evacuated and power has been shut off as Texas continues to grapple with the second-largest fire in American history.

The wildfire, comprising 23 separate smaller fires, is fuelled by dry temperatures and high winds, and has burned 1.1 million acres north of the city of Amarillo – that’s over five times the size of New York City.

Almost 4,000 homes and businesses have been left without power, and firestorms even led a nuclear weapons facility to pause operations for a time.

Joyce Blankenship, 83, was found dead in her Stinnett home, family members said, in what is currently the only known casualty of the fires.

Aftermath of fire in Stinnett

The small town of Stinnett saw widespread fire damage, with several homes burnt to the ground


Julene Castillo, 51, said she attempted to flee her hometown of Canadian, but was forced back by thick smoke on the roads.

Castillo said: “The fire was burning all around us – we couldn’t get out… Even with the windows rolled up, your eyes and throat burned."

Terrill Bartlett, Canadian's mayor, said a lack of reports of serious injuries or fatalities meant his town was “blessed”, but it was devastating for residents who had lost homes.

Bartlett said: “We're the kind of community that pulls together and supports one another.”


Firefighter in smoke

Shocking pictures show the blazes turning the sky yellow with smoke


Another Canadian resident, Richard Murray, 72, had his home of 50 years and mechanic’s workshop destroyed by the blaze said: “The house is gone and all the cars are melted… There’s nothing left.”

Murray and his wife are still searching for their pets. He said: “That’s the hardest thing, not knowing what happened to them.”

The couple have received dozens of calls carrying offers of help, and will be staying with friends for the time being.

Horrific photos showed the devastation in Stinnett, with homes and vehicles razed to the ground in images resembling something from a war zone.

Image of fires from above

Drone footage of the fires shows just how much ground they're covering


And the National Weather Service in Amarillo warned that fires were likely to continue, with 20-35mph winds forecast for the weekend due to cause “critical fire weather conditions again”.

Texas has raised its ‘fire preparedness level’ to three – as a result, it may require external help from other states, areas and organisations.

Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in the state, and sanctioned a large-scale rollout of firefighting resources yesterday: 94 firefighters, 33 fire engines and six air tankers.

And the fires have moved east – having started in Texas’ Panhandle, 12 blazes have burned a total of 115,000 acres in Oklahoma.

Wildfires by a road

Wildfires meant residents trying to flee were trapped by "thick smoke"


As of Thursday, the fire is only three per cent contained, and has spread by over 200,000 acres since Wednesday, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The Smokehouse Creek fire, as it is known, has beaten 2006’s East Amarillo Complex fire to become the largest in state history.

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