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Texas Panhandle Wildfires Burn Over 300,000 Acres and Force Emergency Evacuation Orders

2 months ago
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Firefighters are working day and night to contain several dangerous wind-fueled Texas Panhandle wildfires. The largest blaze, the Smokehouse Creek grass fire, has forced widespread evacuations as it tears through Hemphill County about 100 miles northeast of Amarillo.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the unrelenting flames have devoured at least 250,000 acres so far with zero per cent containment due to unrelenting high winds, raising the Texas wildfire risk even further.

Wildfire Evacuation Orders Issued

Hemphill County Emergency Management officials issued urgent evacuation orders Tuesday afternoon, with Sheriff Brent Clapp strongly advising all residents of Canadian to leave immediately.

As the raging wildfire forced road closures later that evening, Sheriff Clapp recommended Canadian residents shelter in place. The giant smoke plume could be seen from over 30 miles away outside of the Texas wildfires map.

Canadian Independent School District has canceled all classes Wednesday over safety concerns. Multiple structures burned in Canadian with more likely impacted.

In addition to Canadian, mandatory wildfire evacuation orders also force residents to urgently flee the towns of Glazier and Higgins. Roberts County Judge Mitchell Locke also declared a county-wide compulsory evacuation Tuesday evening.

Severe weather expert Guy Pearson explained the extreme fire behavior, "The Smokehouse Creek fire is being fueled by southwesterly winds over 60 mph and is rapidly spreading east-northeast towards Canadian." He added that the winds drastically shifted direction behind Tuesday's strong cold front, instantly changing the direction the explosive wildfire expanded.

Meteorologist Dan DePodwin expects more favorable weather conditions Wednesday which should aid firefighting efforts.

"The powerful winds impacting the Texas Panhandle wildfires are forecast to continue Tuesday night before easing to 15-25 mph after midnight. Wednesday's winds look lighter, predicted at 10-20 mph which should assist firefighters’ efforts to contain the blazes."


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