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Texas Panhandle Wildfires Much Bigger Than First Thought

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TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - Authorities say one of the three wildfires in the Texas Panhandle is about three times larger than they had thought.

Phillip Truitt, a spokesman for the Texas A&M Forest Service, says the fire in the northeast corner of the Panhandle near the Oklahoma border has burned about 460 square miles of land, not the 156 square miles officials estimated earlier Tuesday.

He says authorities were finally able to fly over the area to get a more accurate sense of the damage.

The fire is only about 5 percent contained but the winds have died down since Monday.

Local officials estimate that a separate fire to the south has burned about 100,000 acres, or roughly 156 square miles. But Truitt says the state Forest Service hasn't yet given its own assessment.

A third, smaller fire near Amarillo was about 75 percent contained.

Authorities say four people have died in the two larger wildfires. Three of those killed were ranch hands working in the Panhandle. Gray County emergency management coordinator Sandi Martin identified them as Emmert Sloan, Cody Crockett and Sydney Wallace. She says Crockett and Wallace were in their early 20s and Sloan's age was not known.

Firefighters and two brush trucks from the Fort Worth Fire Department and firefighters from Dallas-Fire Rescue are going to help battle the wildfires.

Fort Worth firefighters
Fort Worth firefighters heading to Panhandle to battle wildfires (Fort Worth Fire Dept.)

Fort Worth firefighters heading to Panhandle to battle wildfires (Fort Worth Fire Dept.)

Fires in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado have driven thousands of people from their homes and scorched hundreds of square miles of land.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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