Texas battles historic wildfires that have left at least two people dead

Smokehouse Creek fire has burnt through hundreds of thousands of hectares and is only 5 per cent contained

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Texas firefighters on Friday were struggling to contain a historic blaze that has scorched through 400,000 hectares and left at least two people dead.

The Smokehouse Creek fire, which has grown to over 4,400 square kilometres, the largest in the state's history, was only 5 per cent contained on Friday after merging with another fire, Texas A&M Forest Service said.

Potentially strong winds in west Texas are expected to increase the potential for wildfire activity in the Plains on Saturday and Sunday, the service added.

A dusting of snow gave firefighters a brief respite, but it did little to contain the blaze that covers an area larger than the US state of Rhode Island.

The fire has also stretched into Oklahoma, where it has affected tens of thousands of hectares.

Authorities did not say what sparked the fire, but strong winds, dry brush and warm weather helped feed the flames.

Two women were confirmed to have died in the fires this week, but authorities have not yet been able to conduct a search for other potential victims.

President Joe Biden, who visited Texas on Thursday, said he has ordered federal officials to assist communities affected by the fires.

“We’re standing with everyone affected by these wildfires and we’re going to continue to help you respond and recover,” he said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties across the state, the Associated Press reported.

Updated: March 07, 2024, 8:25 AM