Massive wildfire burns South Central Kansas

Photo of fire taken by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

TOPEKA (KSNT) — The Director of Shawnee County Emergency Management and the Topeka Fire Department’s Fire Chief contacted KSNT and told us that the haze we are seeing in Topeka and Northeast Kansas is smoke that’s drifting up from the wildfires down in South Central Kansas. Both said that there are no out of control fires and/or grass fires in Shawnee County as of 8:30 p.m.


(KSNW) — Here are the latest updates from out affiliate in Wichita:

Medicine Lodge Memorial Hospital and the jail in Medicine Lodge have been evacuated. Residents are under voluntary evacuation.

“There’s just fires starting up every where,” said Sun City resident Sabina Long. “I mean, everywhere. I wanted to get my pictures water all around the house, lawn. get my pictures. get my animals.”

Meanwhile, Nathan Lee, who lives near Sun City, came to help out.

“We’re just checking on neighbors,” Lee said. “Making sure people don’t need help protecting their homes and protecting their livestock.”

. . .

No injuries have been reported in either state, according to local officials. About a dozen homes have been evacuated in Comanche County, though none of the houses has been damaged, county emergency management coordinator John Lehman said.

Harvey County emergency management officials say several small structures have been lost to the fire, but no injuries have been reported so far.

About 65 firetrucks and hundreds of firefighters were helping to gradually contain the blaze, which occasionally whipped into canyons, Lehman said. Oil field crews have hauled water to the scene in tractor-trailers to help.

One couple was seen bringing water and food to firefighters and emergency crews.


 

KIOWA, Kan. (AP) — Fire crews were working to contain a wildfire burning across nearly 110 square miles in rural Oklahoma and Kansas on Wednesday, while strong wind and dry conditions also increased fire threats in neighboring states, authorities said.

The National Weather Service said the fire started Tuesday night near the Kansas border in Woods County, Oklahoma. Wind gusts of up to 30 mph helped spread the blaze into in western Kansas, where about a dozen homes were evacuated. Dense smoke and fire also prompted highway officials to close a 28-mile stretch of U.S. 160 in Kansas.

No injuries have been reported in either state, and none of the evacuated houses in Kansas’ Comanche County has been damaged, county emergency management coordinator John Lehman said. But he noted that wind speeds were increasing and complicating firefighting efforts.

“With this kind of wind, it’s going to be kind of bad,” Lehman said.

Mark Goeller, fire management chief of Oklahoma Forestry Services, said an airplane was being used to dump water on the flames.

Asked if the fire was under control, Goeller said: “Oh, no. Not by any stretch of the imagination.”

Dozens of firetrucks and hundreds of firefighters were also working helping to gradually contain the blaze, Lehman said. Oil field crews hauled water to the scene in tractor-trailers to help.

Parts of New Mexico and northwest Texas also were at extreme risk for wildfires on Wednesday because of warm, windy, dry conditions, according to the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center. The area covers more than 120,000 square miles and includes the cities of Lubbock, Texas; Oklahoma City; and Wichita and Topeka in Kansas.

The Oklahoma Forestry Services has also warned local fire departments that conditions would worsen through the evening, with winds expected to shift.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

MAP OF FIRE:

Map of fire (courtesy Oklahoma Forestry Service)
Map of fire (courtesy Oklahoma Forestry Service)

 

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