One killed in Texas wildfire

by IANS |

Houston, Feb 29 (IANS) At least one person was killed in fast-spreading wildfires in the Texas Panhandle that forced evacuations in more towns, knocked out power to thousands of customers and shut down a nuclear weapons plant, local media reported.

Fueled by high winds and dry air since Monday afternoon, the largest fire, known as Smokehouse Creek Wildfire, has burned through more than 850,000 acres as of Wednesday evening with only 3 per cent contained. It now ranks as the second largest in Texas history, Xinhua news agency reported.

The blaze in Moore County scorched an estimated 142,000 acres, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service on Wednesday night.

These wildfires are "quicker than anybody can get around," said a spokesperson for the service.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties and said more counties could be added.

An official with the city of Borger confirmed a death linked to the wildfire on Wednesday without providing additional details, local media reported.

In the town of Canadian, at least 30 homes were reportedly burned to the ground.

Pantex Plant, a major nuclear weapons facility in the United States, suspended its operation Tuesday night due to the raging wildfires.

The plant, located 21 miles (33.8 km) east of Texas Panhandle's largest city Amarillo, assembles and disassembles the country's nuclear arsenal.

Rain could arrive in the Texas Panhandle later this week, according to local media reports.

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