The 52-foot "Big Tex" statue that has welcomed visitors to the State Fair of Texas with a booming, "Howdy, folks!" for the past 60 years was completely destroyed in a terrifying burst of flames today.

Fair President Sue Gooding told Houston's KTRK News that the structure burned very quickly and was rendered unsalvageable within ten minutes. Early speculation suggests the damage was caused by an electrical fire.

Because everything, including tragedy, is bigger in Texas, natives are taking the news extremely hard. Many on Twitter are comparing the destruction of the statue to 9/11.

A major difference between the events is that no injuries were reported as a result of the the novelty statue's fire, and 9/11 proved the single largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil in the nation's history.

Only Tex's wire framework and hands, jutting out in friendly welcome from his charred corpse, remain.

Gooding promises the statue will be rebuilt before next year's fair.

For a lovingly detailed account of Big Tex's origins and history, check out his heavily biased Wikipedia entry.

[KTRK // Images via B. J. Bonnett and AP]