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Ranches, cattle in Texas Panhandle suffering as wildfires rage

Wildfires engulf Texas panhandle
Wildfires engulf Texas panhandle 02:44

Wildfires continue to rage in the Texas Panhandle.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire that broke out on Monday has since extended to 1.1 million acres, firefighters said Thursday, quickly becoming the "largest and most destructive" in state history. Two people have died in the fires.

Footage from Turkey Track Ranch shows cattle running away from orange flames and plumes of black and gray smoke. The ranch is located about 90 miles northeast of Amarillo.

The ranch says they estimate about 80% of the pastures, plains and vegetation have been burned by the Smokehouse Creek Fire. They are assessing the damage and loss of livestock.

"Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to all those who have lost homes and personal property and who have sustained injury," the ranch said in a statement published by The Gilmer Mirror. "The loss of livestock, crops, and wildlife, as well as ranch fencing and other infrastructure throughout our property as well as other ranches and homes across the region is, we believe, unparalleled in our history."

Turkey Track Ranch is currently on the market – the listing says the ranch spans 80,000 acres.

There are at least five active wildfires throughout the state, with the Smokehouse Creek Fire being the largest. The second-largest active wildfire as of Thursday is the Windy Deuce Fire in Moore County, which has grown to an estimated 142,000 acres and is 50% contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service

Other active wildfires include the Grape Vine Creek Fire in Gray County and the Magenta Fire in Oldham County.

"Our sincere gratitude and heartfelt thanks go out to the firefighters who came from as far away as Flower Mound and Dallas to protect and save our ranch. These folks along with some of our own hands, friends, and family members were able to gallantly fight the fire and, in the process, save our historic homestead as well as several other outlying homes and buildings. That said, we are all completely devastated and personally heartbroken by the magnitude of this horrific event not only across our own ranch but that of many others."

The ranch says they are confident they will recover and regenerate growth, habitat, ecosystems and wildlife.

Since Sunday, February 25, Texas A&M Forest Service says they have responded to 56 wildfires burning more than 1,256,328 acres. 

"Strong winds and warm temperatures have resulted in grasses drying across many portions of Texas," said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief. "As firefighters continue to suppress active fires, we urge Texans to be cautious with any outdoor activity that may cause a spark."

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