A prescribed burn stalled a huge Texas fire — and Smokehouse Creek Fire hits the million-acre mark

Aerial images from Hutchinson County, Texas shot with a drone yesterday show the aftermath of a huge fire adjacent to a 7-mile swath of land that was prescription burned a few months ago near Borger, a Panhandle town of about 12,000 in north Texas.

Borger, Texas
Borger, Texas, on Wednesday. Photo by City of Borger / Hutchinson County Office of Emergency Management.
15:08 CST 02/29
15:08 CST 02/29

Northeast of there, the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest of at least five other active fires in the Panhandle, has burned over 1 million acres, leaving charred homes and buildings behind. The fire’s doubled in size since 03:00 CST on 02/28.

The drone images in a CNN report feature a 7-mile prescribed burn that was conducted a few months ago.

Officials with Borger’s Office of Emergency Management said the prescribed burn prevented a fire flank from spreading into the southern parts of the town, including the Meadowlark, Country Club, and Bunavista areas.

Borger map

“As much damage as we have, our proactive efforts did prevent even more,” Hutchinson County officials said. — [Panhandle fires photo gallery]

The fires in Texas and Oklahoma have burned so much land that the blackened ground is visible from space. Satellite imagery captured burn scars stretching from the Texas Panhandle into western Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon.

Satellite images from Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon show burn scars in the Texas Panhandle in the wake of devastating fires. CIRA/RAMMB
Satellite shots show burn scars in the Texas Panhandle in the wake of devastating fires. CIRA/RAMMB images.

Burn scars are often a combination of burned vegetation, debris, and a scorched layer of soil. In the satellite image above, the burn scar appears as charcoal gray and black against the tan unburned ground around it.

 ~ Thanks and a tip of the hardhat to Chris and Alison.

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5 thoughts on “A prescribed burn stalled a huge Texas fire — and Smokehouse Creek Fire hits the million-acre mark”

  1. Hello! I am from Borger, TX and my family still lives there. While the Smokehouse Creek fire has passed the million acre mark, that is not the fire that was stalled by the Borger prescribed fire in November. The fire that was stalled is also large and very near the Smokehouse Creek fire, but the fire south of Borger (where the prescribed burn was) that began near Fritch is actually the Windy Deuce fire. You can also see this in the map included in your article. Thank you for getting the message out there that prescribed burns save lives and property! I thought you might want to have the correct fire referenced in your article.

    1. THANKS Alison, I wondered about that, and we appreciate your help! I fixed it; hope all your family are safe there.

  2. Lots of U.S. airtankers currently here in Australia on contract in your “off season” Global SuperTanker still Colorado based. 70,000 odd litres of retardant on a 3 kilometer swath. Might have helped save some of those properties along with ground based resources. Same here in Pomonal Victoria, 46 houses, half the town destroyed. Helicopters and light tankers unable to fly during strong winds during the fire at times. More LATs and VLATs required as these fires grow in intensity perhaps?

    1. It’s hard to say. I was listening on Broadcastify when it was apparent Fritch was in danger. I did a lot of severity in Fritch years ago so I am familiar with the area. I heard the IC ask for the wind speed and direction from the local mesonet. The reply was West sustained 44 with gusts to 56 mph. The fire was consuming about 2 acres every second I believe. Those airtankers would’ve had to be flying low to the deck as the drift would’ve been pretty bad, that’s if the wind speeds didn’t shut them down. It will be more of the same Sunday in the plains. We plan on staffing our volunteer station from 1200-dark. We hope if something breaks we can jump it quick and maybe keep a roadside fire from becoming an inferno.


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