Semi driver killed by smoke from Kansas wildfire

Posted March 10, 2017

More than 650,000 acres (263,000 hectares) have burned in Kansas, but the fire threat subsided on Tuesday with just eight counties reporting active blazes, according to the state's emergency management agency.

Most of the burned land is in Kansas, where about 2,000 firefighters have been battling a series of blazes that consumed more than 1,000 square miles and damaged or destroyed dozens of structures.

Estimates show between 200,000 and 300,000 acres have already burned in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties alone, where unsafe fire conditions are expected to continue tonight and tomorrow.

Another fire near Amarillo, known as the Dumas Complex Fire, is now 75 percent contained as residents are allowed back into their homes, according to My High Plains.

The remains of a family farm destroyed by fire in Harper County, Oklahoma.

U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford of Oklahoma planned to visit the northwest part of the state Friday to discuss the wildfires. A smaller fire to the west, near Amarillo, was fully contained by firefighters Tuesday. The largest fire, located near Ochiltree, Hemphill, and Lipscomb Counties, is 60 percent contained.

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The fires across the Panhandle were so severe, Gov. Greg Abbot issued a statement Monday night saying he was sending state resources to the area to assist in fighting the fires.

The estimated total number of acres burned in the state is approximately 626,000 acres.

The cause of the fire remains unclear.

Elsewhere, the largest evacuations were in Reno County, where 10,000 to 12,000 people voluntarily left their homes Monday night, said Katie Horner, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Emergency Management.

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

A third wildfire in Gray County and measuring almost 145 square miles is 25% contained. 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. A stretch of a US 54 in southern Kansas's Pratt County also was closed Monday because of smoke from a fire near a cotton gin and surrounding grassland. Officials say a separate fire has scorched more than 155 square miles of land in neighboring Harper County and taken the life of a woman who had a heart attack while trying to keep her farm near Buffalo from burning. "A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior".