Fires in the US state of Texas have burned over one million acres of land, with the state’s agriculture commissioner stating that farmers and ranchers are “losing everything”.

The Smokehouse Creek fire is one of five active fires scorching an area in the north of the state known as the Texas Panhandle and has become the state’s second-largest wildfire in history.

The Texas department of agriculture has reported that several grain and seed operations have reported total losses as a result of the fires.

The Smokehouse Creek fire is closing in on becoming the largest fire on record in Texas

Exacerbated by dry conditions and strong winds, the wildfires have resulted in widespread damage threatening livelihoods and infrastructure.

Impact

“The Smokehouse Creek fire is closing in on becoming the largest fire on record in Texas,” agriculture commissioner Sid Miller said.

“These fires not only threaten lives and property, but will also have a substantial impact on our agriculture industry.

“Over 85% of the state’s cattle population is located on ranches in the panhandle. There are millions of cattle out there, with some towns comprising more cattle than people. The losses could be catastrophic for those counties. Farmers and ranchers are losing everything,” he said.

Catastrophic damage

Cattle and crop losses in the panhandle are significant and infrastructure damage is catastrophic, the department of agriculture said.

Hemphill county has reported over a thousand missing or dead cattle

“Even those Texans fortunate enough to save their herd may not have anything to return to but ashes. The path forward as an agricultural operation is unclear without home and belongings.

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“Hemphill county has reported over 1,000 missing or dead cattle and several dead horses, goats, and sheep. Numbers in Hemphill county and other impacted areas are expected to rise as the smoldering fire subsides and assessment can be conducted,” it added.

Disaster declared

A disaster has been declared in 60 counties in the state, with the Texas agriculture relief fund calling for donations to assist farmers and ranchers.

“Donations will go a long way toward rebuilding the panhandle,” commissioner Miller added. “We stand in solidarity with our farmers and ranchers facing loss and destruction,” he said.