Abbott Accused Of Wrong Priorities

Some on social media have accused Texas Governor Greg Abbott of putting the historically devastating wildfires in his state on the back burner in favor of issues about the U.S.-Mexico border.

The “Panhandle” area of northern Texas and even some areas of Oklahoma have been experiencing devastating wildfires for the past week. As of Saturday, the fires had consumed 1,078,000 acres, with the Smokehouse Creek Fire surpassing all others to become the biggest in the state’s recorded history. On Friday, it was said that the fire had been restricted to around 15% of its original area and that 400 to 500 buildings had been burned.

Like many Republicans, Abbott has called the current surge of migrants crossing the border a “crisis” and has been arguing with the federal government about whose responsibility it is to deal with border issues. On Thursday, he went to the border with prominent Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In a press conference held at the governor’s mansion on Friday morning, Greg Abbott informed reporters that he is quickly making his way to the Panhandle to gather an update on the firefighting efforts, determine the resources that local governments require to sustain their firefighting response, ensure public safety, and distribute supplies to those who have lost their homes.

He said the county courts and the Texas Division of Emergency Management have been in constant communication.

Just the Smokehouse Creek fire, which started on Monday afternoon approximately 65 miles north of Amarillo, has expanded over a million acres and is now in Oklahoma and Texas. The previous record-holder for the largest wildfire in the state was the 2006 East Amarillo Complex fire, which burned through 906,000 acres of land; this fire is more significant.

After the Smokehouse Creek fires, fires in the west, known as the Windy Deuce fires, spread throughout numerous counties north of Amarillo and consumed 142,000 acres of property.

As of this morning, Friday, the Moore County fire known as the Windy Deuce Fire is still 55% contained. On Thursday, officials from the Texas A&M Forest Service said that they had transferred control of the situation to a federal incident management team due to the enormous extent of the two wildfires.

As of Thursday night, a minor third fire in Hutchinson County had been confined to within 10%. The Forest Service reported a more minor fire in the area had been completely extinguished. Warmer and drier conditions, exacerbated by climate change, have increased the frequency and severity of wildfires in the Western United States.