US Plains wildfires leave thousands of cattle dead

Posted March 10, 2017

At least six people have already died from the fires, including four in the Texas grasslands, where fast moving flames torched their way across the prairie land.

"There were multiple wildfires across Oklahoma and Kansas primarily due to the low humidity and high winds", Emergency Management Director Greg Standard said. One died from smoke inhalation and two from burns.

And a wildfire in Kansas is prompting evacuations.

Bill Bunting is chief of forecast operations at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The combination of strong winds, dry air and dormant vegetation in the central United States will continue to raise the risk of brush fires through midweek.

The Dumas Complex Fire, in Potter County near Amarillo, ignited amid humidity values in the single digits and winds gusting in excess of 50 miles per hour.

But wildfires, which are started by human activity or lightning strikes, are burning more land.

Four firefighters were injured while battling the blaze, My High Plains reported.

Oklahoma County fire departments organized a task force that was sent to northwest Oklahoma early Wednesday to help in the efforts, Barnes said.

She also said the fire spread today to Comanche County, where 500 people had to be evacuated.

The American Red Cross opened shelters for displaced residents in Coldwater and Dodge City.

The weather could at last work in the firefighters' favor: Winds across west and central Kansas and into the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles will range from 10 to 15 miles per hour Thursday, down from earlier in the week, according to Jared Leighton, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The fires have killed four people, with the latest victim identified as 25-year-old Cade Koch. She said the largest evacuations were in Reno County, where 10,000 to 12,000 people voluntarily left their homes Monday night.

A third, smaller fire near Amarillo was about 75 percent contained.

You may have seen some smoke overnight that's because there was a wildfire in the Oklahoma Panhandle north of Amarillo.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management says hospitals reported the injuries from the wildfires still burning in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

That fire originated across the state border in Oklahoma, where it burned an estimated 390 square miles in Beaver County.

The fires have destroyed 30 homes and compromised bridges, Horner said, but it's now at least 50% contained.

Winds across the Panhandle should subside for Wednesday, according to the TFS, but elevated fire conditions return to the area Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

New estimates indicate Kansas wildfires have burned more than 1,000 square miles, up from 625 square miles.