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Wildfires take a toll in Colo., Kan., Okla., and Texas

21 March, 2017, 13:53 | Author: Mae Harvey
  • Several wildfires threatened the Texas Panhandle

Emergency crews struggled Tuesday to contain wildfires that have scorched hundreds of square miles of land in four states, killing six people and forcing thousands of others to flee their homes ahead of the wind-whipped flames.

On Tuesday, Laverne residents and ranchers woke to a tragic scene of suffering destruction from Monday's historically large and damaging wildfires that swept across the Panhandle and Northwest Oklahoma. Fires in the state were at 342,237 acres on Wednesday afternoon, with 0 percent containment, "and the last thing we need is to have additional fires", he said.

"These conditions will make it somewhat easier for firefighting efforts, but far from ideal. The fires still will be moving", Bunting said. "The ideal situation is that it would turn cold and rain, and unfortunately that's not going to happen".

The "Starbuck" fire is just one of several fires that have burned at least 200,000 acres in the Oklahoma panhandle. The patrol says he succumbed to smoke when he got out of his vehicle.

Two SUVs crashed into the truck, injuring six people who were taken to hospitals, state trooper Michael Racy said.

Monitoring is crucial because the ground is "extremely dry", and it was possible that sparks from a smoldering stump could re-ignite the fire, said John Lehman, the emergency manager in Comanche County, where 234 square miles has burned.

An Oklahoma Forest Service Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) has been assigned to the fires but an order has been placed for a Type 1 IMT, which is the largest and most highly qualified type of IMT.

More than 2,000 firefighters are battling fires around the state, he said.

"When we were fighting (the fire), they said they were stationing water at my brother's house on our farm north of Haxtun", he said. Authorities said as many as 13,000 people have voluntarily evacuated their homes in Reno County.

"We're not out of the woods, by any means", Brownback said. The Logan County Emergency Management Office said at least four structures, including three homes, were destroyed. The fire was 61 percent contained on Tuesday.

Several hundred more people evacuated their homes in Russell, Ellsworth and Comanche counties, in central Kansas.

Health disorders such as burned eyes, feet, udders, sheaths and testicles, as well as smoke inhalation with lung inflammation and edema, are the most common problems, he said, adding that the fires came at a very inopportune time for ranchers who are beginning the calving season.

"On Tuesday morning, smoldering fields and hay piles were sending throat-clogging smoke into the air", reported the Post's Jesse Paul.

Several wildfires emerged in different regions across the country this week due to a unsafe combination of warmer weather, windy and dry conditions. All of eastern Colorado is classified as either moderately or abnormally dry along with major parts of Kansas, nearly all of Oklahoma and some of northern Texas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Find the full National Fire Situational Awareness map here. The largest fire, located near Ochiltree, Hemphill, and Lipscomb Counties, is 60 percent contained.

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