Tuesday 5 March 2024

Largest wildfire in Texas history—It's a worrying trend and it's getting worse—A fire which started, not at the end of a tinder-dry summer but—In winter. As we have seen recently these fires can happen anywhere without warning and are absoulutly devastating!

The ironically named Smokehouse Creek Fire, Texas 2024, credit Wikipedia.

It's a worrying trend, it's getting worse and in many ways began around the time COVID-19 struck—Around the beginning of 2020. Wildfires have been around for years I hear you screaming, and, they have, however, the wildfire which happened in Australia at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 was a trailblazer, if you'll excuse the pun. . .

No documented wildfire in the history of mankind had ever witnessed such an event resulting in the deaths of more than 2 billion animals the destruction of 25% of Australia's temperate forests and the loss of 60% of their summer crops. Later that year, it happened again, this time in California, and a year later it was in Canada and the entire western coast of the US. It's happened since in Canada once again, Syberia, Europe twice, the Amazon and this year of course in Texas.

Firefighters are racing to wrangle the largest blaze in Texas history at the moment, a fire which started, not at the end of a tinder-dry summer but—In winter. Hot air and raging winds have fueled the infernos in recent days, reducing entire neighbourhoods to rubble and inflicting harrowing injuries upon ranchers’ livestock. Since igniting in February, the ravenous Smokehouse Creek Fire has incinerated more than 1 million acres of the Texas Panhandle and is still only 15% contained. The fire has killed at least two people and crossed into Oklahoma, where more than 31,000 acres have been burned. Five fires tearing across the Panhandle have burned as many as 500 homes and businesses, state officials said.

A new blaze – the Roughneck Fire – ignited in Hutchinson County on Sunday and prompted evacuations there as crews raced to get resources to the area. First responders hoped that after the weekend’s severe fire risk, improved conditions in the coming days would allow them to inch closer to containing the infernos, Texas A&M Forest Service spokesperson Jason Nedlo told CNN on Saturday. But the blazes have so far been thriving on a bounty of fuel, including blankets of grass grown after higher-than-average rainfall this winter.“There’s a lot of fuel on the ground,” Nedlo said. “When you add high winds and low humidity to high fuel load levels, that’s when you get the conditions that are ripe for large, fast-burning wildfires.”

Whatever happens in the days, weeks and months to come this wildfire will go down in history, not for its intensity but the fact that it started in late winter and after higher-than-average rainfall.


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