Power Lines Reported to Be Cause of Historic Wildfire in Texas

2024-03-11 14:00:40

While on vacation, a massive wildfire claimed over one million acres in the Texas panhandle. Following an investigation by the Texas A&M Forest Service, it is reported that power lines may have sparked the Smokehouse Creek wildfire.

According to Juan Rodriguez, a public information officer with the service, investigators have completed their investigation into the cause of the Smokehouse Creek fire and the Windy Deuce fire, Texas Standard reported.

“In this case, we saw winds that were over 60 and 70 miles an hour. And so when the winds are doing that, driving down the roadways, you can just see power lines just bouncing up and down,” Rodriguez said. “It’s bound to cause one of these power lines to fail or something like that. So, you know, one of them or some of them may have fallen or just got out just due to the sheer wind.”

In a statement shared Thursday, Xcel Energy acknowledged “that its facilities appear to have been involved in an ignition of the Smokehouse Creek fire.” PEOPLE has reached out to the energy company and Rodriguez for comments.

Following the news, I noted many troubling aspects of this disaster. To begin with, in addition to the devastating impact on Texans, the fires killed over three thousand cattle.

Officials surveying the damage said more than 3,600 cattle have died since the fires – some of which are still burning – spread through multiple counties and into Oklahoma, destroying hundreds of homes and killing at least two people. The number of dead cattle is expected to double or triple in the coming days as land is inspected and animals are euthanized because of burn injuries and trauma, Sid Miller, commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture, told USA TODAY.

“It’s a ghastly sight,” Miller said, recounting hundreds of cows lying dead on smoldering fields. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”

…Texas is home to 11 million livestock animals, 85% of them in the panhandle, the country’s most prominent region for beef production, Miller said. The mass deaths probably won’t affect the price of beef around the nation, but it has already devastated local ranchers, many who have maintained businesses that have been in their families for generations, he said.

“They’ve lost their livestock, ranches, all their belongings, all their family heirlooms,” Miller said. “Many of them just have the shirt on their back.”

Personally, I find the incineration of the area where so much of the nation’s high-quality protein is raised extremely disturbing. It is fortunate that the fire’s consequences are not worse.

However, it appears ranchers may still face challenges keeping the survivors alive.

Cattle that have survived the blazes relatively unscathed are still suffering, as are their owners, as the fires took out essential resources. Of the primary five fires that have burned over the past two weeks, four are in the Canadian River Basin, Miller said, a region that he says is mostly canyons and grazing land. Roughly 120 miles of powerlines have been burned down in the fires, and seven grain and seed dealers were “completely wiped out.”

“That means no electricity, no water for the livestock,” he said, adding that his unofficial estimate is that 3,0000 to 4,000 miles of fencing has also been destroyed. One mile of fencing, he said, is about $10,000.

Even the burned grass poses a problem, as the cattle industry heavily relies on healthy pastures. Miller said he believes it will take at least two years for grasses to return to where they were, and that, on top of everything else, means many ranchers will likely have to completely change their future plans, with some even getting rid of their surviving cattle.

“For most of these people, that cattle that survived, they’re probably going to have to either find some other grazing somewhere in the state or another state, or probably sell out and wait ’til they get their ranch put back together before they can restock,” he said.

Furthermore, I would also like to note that power lines have been blamed for the deadly Maui wildfire, as well as wildfires that have occurred in California.

It will be interesting to see if racing to adopt renewable energy forced the utility to make the same sort of choices that Hawaii Electric made, making the Smokehouse Creek wildfire another woke-caused disaster:

To begin with, the rush to eliminate carbon emissions may have killed the implementation of effective fire prevention policies.

Legal Insurrection readers recall my recent reports that downed power lines were being blamed as the initiating case of the fire. At the end of 2019, Hawaiian Electric issued a press release about wildfire risks assessed after hurricane-based winds contributed to a 2018 blaze.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Hawaiian Electric was well aware of the potential for this situation, but diverted resources away from fire safety support in order to meet state-required green energy mandates.

Meanwhile, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) used satellite imagery to capture the scale of the wildfire’s impact.

Fires began to spark in the Panhandle on February 24 and had spread widely by February 26 and 27, according to NASA data. The burn scar of these blazes was captured in false color by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite on March 2, showing the immense scale of the Smokehouse Creek Fire in particular.

Another satellite image, captured by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8, shows a detailed view of the Windy Deuce Fire’s burn scar, displaying the scorched land surrounding the town of Fritch and nearby Lake Meredith. Fritch was rapidly evacuated as the Windy Deuce Fire approached its perimeter, with over 50 houses burned to the ground.

Hopefully, the region and the ranchers will recover quickly, and perhaps the utility companies will be allowed to use their resources to preserve the utility instead of being forced to comply with eco-activist requirements.


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