Texas issues disaster declaration as wildfires burn out of control

The US state of Texas issued a disaster declaration Tuesday as massive wildfires continued to burn out of control, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes, according to Anadolu Agency.

Four of the fires in the northernmost part of the state, known as the Texas Panhandle, ignited on Monday and have already consumed 240,000 acres of land, with the largest blaze 0% contained as of Tuesday evening, according to state forestry officials. They said the rapid spread of the wildfires has been driven by gusty winds between 40 and 60 miles (64 and 96 kilometers) per hour and fueled by dry, unseasonably warm conditions.

So far, 5,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes with more evacuation orders expected as the wildfires continue to spread.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in the panhandle.

"I issued a disaster declaration today to ensure critical fire response resources are swiftly deployed to areas in the Texas Panhandle being impacted by devastating wildfires," Abbott said in a statement.

"Hot and dry conditions caused by high temperatures and windy conditions are expected to continue in the region in the coming days," he said. "These conditions could increase the potential for these wildfires to grow larger and more dangerous."

Many roads and highways in the region have been shut down due to the raging fires and billowing smoke which are causing close to zero visibility.

Firefighters are currently battling a total of 13 wildfires throughout the state.

Fire warnings are in place for the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas for more than 11 million Americans, according to weather officials.

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