Governor Greg Abbott estimates that the wildfires in Texas have destroyed up to 500 structures

EFE

The wildfires could have destroyed up to 500 structures in the northern strip of Texas, said Governor Greg Abbott on Friday, describing how the largest fire in the state's history devastated everything in its path.

The Smokehouse Creek fire, which started on Monday, has burned about 4,400 square kilometers, caused the death of at least two people, and left a charred landscape of burned prairie, dead cattle, and houses consumed by the fire. The cause is still under investigation, although strong winds, dry grass, and unseasonably warm weather fueled it.

"When we see the damage that has occurred here, it has simply vanished, completely disappeared, there is nothing left but ashes on the ground," said Abbott at a press conference in Borger, Texas, adding that a preliminary assessment found that between 400 and 500 structures had been destroyed.

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Abbott praised what he called a heroic response from the brave firefighters.

"It would have been much worse and much more damaging, not only to properties but to people if it weren't for those firefighters," he said.

The National Weather Service forecast for the weekend warns of strong winds, relatively low humidity, and dry conditions posing a "significant threat" for fire spread in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico.

"Everyone has to understand that we face enormous risks of potential fires this weekend," Abbott said. "No one can let their guard down. Everyone must stay very vigilant."

In the damaged town of Stinnett, with a population of around 1,600 people, families who evacuated due to the Smokehouse Creek fire returned on Thursday and found devastating scenes: melted signs and charred car and truck frames. Houses reduced to a pile of ashes and debris. An American flag placed outside a destroyed house.

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The Smokehouse Creek fire has crossed into Oklahoma, and the Texas A&M Forest Service said on Friday that it has merged with another fire and is 5% contained, a slight improvement from Thursday's 3%.

The deaths of two women due to the fire were confirmed this week. However, because the flames still threaten a wide area, authorities have not conducted a thorough search for victims or counted damaged or destroyed homes and other structures.

President Joe Biden, who was in Texas on Thursday to visit the border with Mexico, said he instructed federal officials to do everything possible to help communities affected by the fires, including sending firefighters and equipment. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has assured that Texas and Oklahoma will be reimbursed for emergency costs, the president noted.

"When disasters happen, where I come from, there are no Republican or Democratic states," Biden said. "Just communities and families seeking help."

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Abbott has issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties.