Texas panhandle prairie wildfire
Credit: wajell/BigStock Photo ID: 287456938

Texas wildfire becomes a historic disaster, threatening small towns

A devastating wildfire, now among Texas's largest, wreaks havoc across the Panhandle, claiming a life and menacing small towns.

Jim Vertuno and Sean Murphy report for the Associated Press.

In short:

  • The Smokehouse Creek Fire has expanded to more than 1,300 square miles, jumping into Oklahoma, with only 3% containment.
  • An 83-year-old woman was confirmed dead, with extensive damage to communities and hundreds of cattle lost.
  • Authorities warn of a dynamic situation, despite a temporary weather improvement, with significant challenges ahead.

Key quote:

“I don’t want the community there to feel a false sense of security that all these fires will not grow anymore. This is still a very dynamic situation.”

— Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Why this matters:

This wildfire's scale and impact is emblematic of the growing threat of climate change and extreme weather events, affecting health, safety, and livelihoods, particularly in rural and vulnerable communities. The ongoing crisis reflects a larger issue of environmental and public health importance. And yet, as the planet burns, climate spending dwindles.

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