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Smokehouse Creek fire, largest in Texas history, contained

The Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest blaze in Texas history and one of the largest in the country has been contained nearly three weeks after it broke out due to a falling electrical poll.

Officials with the Texas A&M Forest Service, the organisation that normally manages wildfires, reported the news in a “final update” social media post on Saturday. The blaze burnt more than 1 million acres of grassland in the state’s panhandle region.

Separately, the Windy Deuce Fire, which incinerated more than 100,000 acres, is also under control, meaning that it has been stopped from spreading. The blazes have transitioned back to local units who will continue to monitor for developments.

Several wildfires broke out across the Panhandle region at the end of February. Thousands of cattle were lost, at least two civilians and one volunteer fire chief died, and multiple families were displaced from their homes as the blaze burned hundreds of structures.

Xcel Energy admitted one of its power lines may have been involved in the Smokehouse Creek fire earlier this month.

This handout picture courtesy of the Flower Mound Fire Department taken on February 28, 2024, shows a firefighter battling the Smokehouse Creek Fire, near Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle. (Flower Mound Fire Department/AFP)
This handout picture courtesy of the Flower Mound Fire Department taken on February 28, 2024, shows a firefighter battling the Smokehouse Creek Fire, near Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle. (Flower Mound Fire Department/AFP)

“Based on currently available information, Xcel Energy acknowledges that its facilities appear to have been involved in an ignition of the Smokehouse Creek fire,” a statement from the company read.

The organisation had previously been sued by Melanie Lee McQuiddy, who lost her home in the fire. She claims the company was negligent in maintaining a faulty power pole.

“Xcel Energy disputes claims that it acted negligently in maintaining and operating its infrastructure; however, we encourage people who had property destroyed by or livestock lost in the Smokehouse Creek fire to submit a claim to Xcel Energy through our claims process,” the company replied to the lawsuit.

Two other defendants, Southwestern Public Service Company and Osmose Utilities Services, were named in the lawsuit. Osmose said it took the allegations extremely seriously and immediately launched an investigation into the incident.

A representative for Southwestern Public Service Company could not be immediately reached for comment.

At a news conference earlier this month, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott applauded the resilience of state residents and those who immediately rushed to help those affected.

“The tragedy of what's been lost is nothing short of catastrophic,” he said.

Organisations have launched relief efforts to help ranchers impacted by the blaze. The Texas Farm Bureau started a wildfire relief fund. Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture has financial assistance to help farmers recover.