Texas wildfires leave damage, destruction and loss of lives in their wake


March 28, 2024

By Sean Disbrow
Staff Writer

After three weeks of battling the worst wildfires in Texas history, the fire is 100% contained. The wildfires, which started on Feb. 26 and burnt over 1.2 million acres of land, killed two people along with thousands of animals.

According to Time Magazine, Grape Vine Creek, Smokehouse Creek and Windy Deuce are the areas of Texas that experienced the most damage from the wildfires, which were caused by broken power poles and downed wires.

Biology teacher Ms Manzella said the main natural cause of wildfires is lightning, which can ignite dry, forested areas if it strikes. 

“There are a number of human activities that can cause wildfires including unattended campfires or burning debris, discarded still-lit cigarettes, fireworks, sparks from electrical equipment or intentional arson,” Manzella said. 

She said wildfires can negatively affect land by destroying vegetation. 

“This can alter the food chain, destroying many of the producers that are at the base of the food chain, which can lead to a decline in biodiversity,” Manzella said.

Although the Texas wildfires had a lot of negative impacts, Manzella said there are positive impacts as well.

“In some cases, wildfires can benefit ecosystems. Some ecosystems that experience frequent wildfires have species that are adapted to them. Some species of trees will release their seeds triggered by the heat of the fires for the next generation to grow,” Manzella said. “Also, fires can help cycle nutrients that were locked up in dead organic matter back into the environment when the ash, which contains nutrients, mixes with the soil.”

“Wildfires can affect people economically, and they could lose everything, and it could be devastating and difficult to recover from.”

Biology teacher Dr. Dunn said the effects of wildfires can be severe.

“Wildfires can affect people economically, and they could lose everything, and it could be devastating and difficult to recover from,” Dunn said.

He said wind plays a role in the spread of a wildfire.

“Depending on how bad the winds are, they could travel to urban areas and destroy many homes or travel to park areas and destroy a lot of animal life,” Dunn said.

He said the impacts of the Texas wildfires are not limited to that state.

“Surrounding states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma can experience pollution from the fires as well as smokey haze,” Dunn said.

Senior Nicole Graziani, who is vice president of the Environmental Club, said she is glad firefighters were able to bring the wildfire under control.

“The wildfires could [have] continued for many months, which is scary to think about. If it is [were] not put out sooner, many more people could [have] been affected,” Graziani said.

Like Dunn, Graziani said the wildfires could have negative effects on surrounding states.

“Not only is there a risk of the wildfire spreading to the surrounding states, but they are also at risk of health problems like what happened with the Canada fires. The wildfire was so severe that the smoke traveled to the United States and reduced our air quality. If the wildfire is not contained, the same situation as the Canadian wildfires could happen again, and [people in] the surrounding states [could] be in danger of breathing disorders,” Graziani said.

Graziani said just because the wildfires have been contained does not mean life can get back to normal for Texas residents.

“Due to the loss of homes and businesses, it could take years to recover from a devastating event like this. The soil would be severely damaged from the fire, so growing crops will require more care and time. Building the houses from scratch will also take a long time because many people are needed to help and there could be time in between that they are not working on it,” Graziani said. “The recovery of a town will not happen overnight, so it will take time and patience from the community to get it all back.”

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