▶ Watch Video: Texas’ Smokehouse Creek Fire becomes second-largest wildfire in U.S. history

The Texas fires have destroyed dozens of homes and businesses in the Lone Star State, leaving a path of destruction larger than the size of Rhode Island and forcing a nuclear plant to take precautions. A map shows the fires, which have killed at least one person, located throughout the state’s rural Panhandle area with some blazes crossing into western Oklahoma.

Where are the Texas fires burning?

The fires are burning north of Amarillo, a city of over 200,000 people.

The largest of the fires, the Smokehouse Creek Fire, is the largest blaze in Texas history. On Thursday, the Texas A&M Forest Service said the inferno grew to an estimated 1.075 million acres.

A satellite image shows the Smokehouse Creek Fire burning in Texas, Feb. 28, 2024.
A satellite image shows the Smokehouse Creek Fire burning in Texas, Feb. 28, 2024. Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies

A 20-second video of satellite images posted by the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere showed the fires growing in Texas and spreading to Oklahoma. Satellite images also show how the fires have affected the small town of Fritch, Texas, with one image showing how the town looked from above last summer.

A satellite image shows how Fritch, Texas, looked from above on Aug. 4, 2023.
A satellite image shows how Fritch, Texas, looked from above on Aug. 4, 2023. Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies

The town’s mayor said dozens of homes have been destroyed in this week’s blazes, according to the Associated Press. One family in Fritch told CBS News that their home was burned to “nothing but ash.”

A satellite image shows how Fritch, Texas, looked from above on Feb. 28, 2024, after devastating fires hit the area.
A satellite image shows how Fritch, Texas, looked from above on Feb. 28, 2024, after devastating fires hit the area. Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies

The fires have upended the lives of people living in several towns in the Panhandle. Hemphill County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Kendall likened the scorched area to a moonscape. “It’s just all gone,” he said, according to the AP.

An infrared satellite image shows a fire line and burn scars west of Miami, Texas, Feb. 28, 2024. With color infrared imagery, burned vegetation appears in shades of black and gray.
An infrared satellite image shows a fire line and burn scars west of Miami, Texas, Feb. 28, 2024. With color infrared imagery, burned vegetation appears in shades of black and gray. Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies

How has the area’s nuclear plant responded to the Texas fires?

The Pantex nuclear plant, located about 30 miles east of Amarillo, evacuated nonessential personnel and constructed a fire barrier on Tuesday in response to a fire near the facility.

The Pantex plant is one of six production facilities for the National Nuclear Security Administration, according to the plant. The plant boasts being “the nation’s primary assembly, disassembly, retrofit, and life-extension center for nuclear weapons” since 1975.

Operations returned to normal Wednesday, the plant said on social media.

“There is no imminent wildfire threat to the plant at this time,” the plant said.

What caused the Texas fires?

Officials haven’t given a cause for the fires, but dry grass, strong winds and warm temperatures have kept them going.

In Canadian, Texas, a woman told CBS News flames spread to her family’s home when a rolling, burning tumbleweed came onto the property, burning down the house.

A satellite image shows the town of Canadian, Texas, Feb. 28, 2024.
A satellite image shows the town of Canadian, Texas, Feb. 28, 2024. Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies

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