STINNETT, Texas (NEWSnet/AP) — Wildfires may have destroyed as many as 500 structures in the Texas Panhandle and that number could rise as damage assessments continue, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday.

The Smokehouse Creek fire, the largest blaze in state history that began Feb. 26, has burned about 1,700 square miles in Texas and killed two people. 

In the hard-hit town of Stinnett, population roughly 1,600, families who evacuated from the Smokehouse Creek fire returned Thursday to devastating scenes: melted street signs and charred frames of cars and trucks. Homes reduced to piles of ash and rubble.

The Smokehouse Creek fire has killed two people.

The blaze merged with another fire and is 15% contained, up from 3% on Thursday, the Texas A&M Forest Service said Friday.

Authorities have not said what ignited the fires, but strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm weather fed them.

Conditions will get worse through the weekend in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico, according to National Weather Service. Strong wind, relatively low humidity and dry conditions are creating conditions that the weather service warned caused “a significant threat for the rapid spread of wildfires.”

National Weather Service in Amarillo issued a red flag warning for Texas Panhandle from late Saturday morning through midnight Sunday.

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