Wildfire burns nearly 110 square miles in Kansas, Oklahoma


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.

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