Dozens of wildfires are causing chaos across the Texas Panhandle as the Smokehouse Creek fire - now the largest blaze in state history - grew to more than 1mn acres on Thursday, even as a dusting of snow brought a measure of relief.

At least two people have died, according to officials. The second victim, confirmed by the Texas department of public safety Thursday afternoon, has been identified as Cindy Owens, a 40-year-old woman who was reportedly overtaken by the fire when she got out of her truck in the town of Canadian. The first, 83-year-old grandmother Joyce Blankenship, was killed in her neighborhood of Stinnett, north-east of Amarillo.

Fueled by parched grasses, strong winds and abnormally warm temperatures, the fires have scorched more than 1.2 million acres since last Sunday, according to the Texas A&M forest service, leaving a desolate landscape of charred prairie, dead cattle and burned-out homes in their wake.

The Smokehouse Creek fire, which merged with another fire, has exploded in recent days, now sweeping across close to 1,700 sq miles (4,400 sq km). As of Thursday, the fire was just 3% contained. "This is now both the largest and most destructive fire in Texas history," the West Odessa volunteer fire department said in a post on Facebook. "It is also the second largest wildfire in US history."

Greg Abbott, the state's governor, issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties. More than a dozen homes in Oklahoma have also been destroyed, according to state emergency officials, as the behemoth blaze crossed state lines.

Cooler temperatures have offered a temporary reprieve as firefighters work to corral the conflagration, but critical fire weather is forecast to return across the plains this weekend, including gusty winds and low humidity, according to the National Weather Service. Meanwhile, the Texas A&M forest service raised its wildland fire preparedness level to level 3.

"The rain and the snow is beneficial right now, we're using it to our advantage," Texas A&M Forest Service spokesman Juan Rodriguez said of the Smokehouse Creek fire. "When the fire isn't blowing up and moving very fast, firefighters are able to actually catch up and get to those parts of the fire."

Widespread power outages have also been an issue, as the fire claimed power lines and vital infrastructure. The North Plains Electric Cooperative reported roughly 115 miles of line has to be rebuilt, and the agency hopes to restore power to the areas by Monday.

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