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Hot, windy weather brings more problems to the Texas Panhandle

Only 3 fires still burning in the Texas Panhandle
Only 3 fires still burning in the Texas Panhandle 00:31

PANHANDLE - A fresh wildfire broke out Sunday in the Texas Panhandle.

The Roughneck fire, which sparked Sunday afternoon, has already burned over 355 acres. It's the last thing the area needs right now. This new fire is also in Hutchinson County and forced the evacuation of Sanford. Texas A&M Forest Service shows the Roughneck fire is 100 percent contained as of Wednesday.

A system of different wildfires has torn through the Panhandle scorching over 1.2 million acres over the past week. Over 1 million of those acres are attributed to the Smokehouse Creek fire, which crossed into Oklahoma.

Additional crews were assigned to the Smokehouse Creek fire Saturday to strengthen control lines to keep the fire under containment. The fire is 44 percent contained. 

Texas Panhandle wildfires DeSoto Fire Department/Jarrod Wright

Texas A&M Forest Service says their main efforts Saturday were spent holding the line as a wind shift could change the direction of the fire.

"Texas, in the panhandle, had a higher than average rain over the winter," said Jason Nedlo, a spokesperson for Texas A&M Forest Service. "So, there's a lot more grass, which we consider fuel. That's what's gonna burn. So there's a lot of fuel on the ground."   

Just north of Pampa Saturday afternoon, smoke was seen above grassland. Across the field, several firefighter trucks and tractors were racing to stop any flames and douse the smoldering field.

The fire has been burning since Monday. Two people have died, 44-year-old Cindy Owen and 83-year-old Joyce Blankenship. Also, victims of the wildfires are thousands of heads of cattle.

Gov. Greg Abbott thanked first responders and local officials Friday for their response to Panhandle wildfires, saying there's nothing left but ashes on the ground and hundreds of structures have been lost.

"This is now both the largest and most destructive fire in Texas history," the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department wrote on Facebook. "It is also the second largest wildfire in U.S. history."   

DeSoto Fire Dept responds to wildfires in Texas' panhandle DeSoto Fire Department/Jarrod Wright

Donations are being collected for ranchers devastated by Texas Panhandle wildfires.

"There have been people that have lost their homes and people that are currently helping the people that have lost their homes. During national and even local disasters, we really pulled together," said Shelly Armer, a Fricth resident. "And that's what makes me proud to be a Texan."

As of Wednesday, the Smokehouse Creek fire is 1,059,570 acres and 44 percent contained. The Windy Deuce fire is 144,206 acres and 81 percent contained.

Abbott also said he's working to get federal aid to the Panhandle, though no word on what exactly that may look like yet.  

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