PICTURED: First victim of Smokehouse Creek Fire is identified
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An 83-year-old grandmother has been identified as the first victim of Texas’ Smokehouse Creek Fire. 

Joyce Blankenship, lived in the Scotts Acres neighborhood, and her body was found in Stinnett, Hutchinson County Public Engagement Coordinator Deidra Thomas said in a statement on Wednesday.  

Blankenship is the first reported death in the wildfires that have ravaged more than 1 million acres as of Wednesday night. 

Since igniting on Monday, the Smokehouse Creek fire has spread to become the second-largest wildfire on record in the Lone Star state, with 850,000 acres having been burned. 

The wildfires sweeping across the Texas Panhandle have prompted evacuations, power outages and temporarily shutdown a nuclear weapons facility.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in response to the wildfires.

‘Texans are urged to limit activities that could create sparks and take precautions to keep their loved ones safe,’ Abbott said.

More than 5,400 people in Texas were without power Wednesday morning.

The Pantex plant, the country’s main facility that assembles and disassembles America’s nuclear arsenal, had evacuated most of its personnel on Tuesday night as the fires raged out of control near its facility.

Early Wednesday, Pantex tweeted that the facility ‘is open for normal day shift operations’ and that all personnel were to report for duty according to their assigned schedule. 

Dozens of cattle have also been killed, as devastating video footage revealed cattle burned to death in the aftermath of the fires sweeping across Texas. 

One clip shows the scattered bodies of cattle that perished due to the flames – spreading at an average rate of 150 football field per minute.

Ranch workers were left without time to evacuate their livestock as the blazing fire approached, Katlyn Butler, whose husband works at Turkey Track Ranch, told CNN. 

‘We cut the fences and unfortunately had to get out due to firefighters having to go save communities,’ she said to the outlet.

‘We’ve lost cattle. Not sure what is alive and isn’t,’ Butler said to CNN.

‘The Smokehouse Creek fire is being fueled by southwesterly winds to 60 mph and is rapidly spreading east-northeast towards the Texas town of Canadian,’ AccuWeather severe weather expert Guy Pearson said. 

Gusty winds, dry conditions and unseasonably warm temperatures have fed the blazes. 

The Grape Vine Creek Fire has reached 30,000 acres, the Reamer Fire has scorched 2,000 acres, Windy Deuce Fire has burned 40,000 acres and the Magenta fire has blazed through 2,000 acres, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. 

Evacuations were ordered in Skellytown, Wheeler, Allison and Briscoe, according to the National Weather Service in Amarillo.

The Canadian Independent School District canceled classes on Wednesday. 

‘Homes have burned in almost every direction,’ Hemphill County Judge Lisa Johnson told local newspaper The Canadian Record.

Randall County, Potter County and the City of Amarillo had declared a local state of disaster, according to the Amarillo Area Office of Emergency Management.

The Hansford County Office of Emergency Management said on Facebook, ‘Structures and Houses lost in Hemphill County inside and outside of Canadian.’ 

‘Multiple areas in Fritch and surrounding areas evacuated and multiple houses lost to the fires.’ 

The weather forecast provided some hope for firefighters, with cooler temperatures, less wind and possibly rain forecast on Thursday.

AccuWeather meteorologist Dan DePodwin said: ‘Winds on Wednesday are expected to be 10-20 mph which is much calmer than Tuesday. This should aid in firefighting efforts.’

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