SAN ANGELO, Texas — The state of Texas is no stranger to scorching wildfires and how devastatingly quickly the blaze can spread leaving destruction in its wake.
As of August 1, the largest wildfire of 2022 has been the Eastland Complex fire located in Central Texas having burned 54,513 acres on March 17, 2022, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.
The largest wildfire in Texas history was the East Amarillo Complex fire on March 12, 2006, which burnt through 907,245 acres.
The East Amarillo Complex Fire broke out in the Texas Panhandle killing a dozen people and destroying nearly a million acres according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). The NIFC defines complex fires as multiple fires in the same area burning relatively close to one another and thus require being managed as a whole.
While the East Amarillo Complex Fire was the largest Texas has seen on record the Bastrop County Complex fire in 2011 was deemed the most destructive fire Texas has seen on record by the Texas A&M Forest Service. This fire began on September 4 when high winds pushed trees across power lines, causing sparks to ignite a nearby pine forest. By the time the flames died down in October, the wildfire had consumed more than 34,000 acres of land, destroyed an estimated 1,600 homes, killed two people and injured at least a dozen others. The American-Statesman reported that this fire destroyed 95% of Bastrop State Park.
The second largest Fire in Texas occurred on March 10, 1988, called the Big Country Fire. This blaze started as a small trash fire according to an article from the New York Times newspaper in 1988 and burned 366,000 acres that spanned five counties and threatened several more. Tom Millwee who was from the state Division of Emergency Management said at the time the article was written no residents had been hurt and that, “It is amazing that a fire could burn that far and for that long and not do more than it did.”
The third largest fire was the Perryton Fire in 2017 which destroyed 318,156 acres. The cause of the Perryton wildfire was determined to be downed power lines or sparks from a transformer.
The Rockhouse Fire is the fourth largest fire and occurred in April of 2011 having decimated 314,444 acres. The fire continued to burn into the month of May. The Rockhouse Fire burned around the town of Fort Davis, the silver area near the center of the satellite image and destroyed at least 26 homes and 2 businesses.
The fifth-largest fire is currently the Glass Fire from 2008 which started on September 27 and was active for 23 days. The fire initially started as a single 20-acre brush fire in Napa County, it rapidly grew and merged with two smaller fires that expanded to 11,000 acres during the night of September 27 into September 28. The Glass Fire was fully contained on October 20, 2020, after burning 220,000 acres and destroying 1,555 structures, including 308 homes and 343 commercial buildings in Napa County, as well as 334 homes in Sonoma County according to Cal Fire.
There are many historical wildfires that have ravenged the state of Texas as seen in the image below from the Texas A&M Forest Service listing the top 30 largest wildfires in Texas history but Texas has always come out bigger and better for it and as the saying goes, “Don’t mess with Texas.”