Officials Say Wildfire Largest In Kansas History

Mar 25, 2016

Credit The Kansas Forestry Service

From the AP  

The Kansas Forest Service says a wildfire that crossed into the state from Oklahoma earlier this week is considered the largest in Kansas history and one of the largest ever in the U.S.

The wildfire has burned at least 620 square miles in Oklahoma and Kansas.

The service said officials are looking at the damage in Barber County, Kansas, to determine if it meets the threshold for a FEMA disaster declaration, which would provide public assistance for damaged public infrastructure.

In Oklahoma, officials said in a release Friday there's been very little growth in the wildfire near the town of Alva, thanks in part to "exceptional firefighting" combined with lighter winds and lower temperatures.

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Strong winds continue to complicate efforts to stop a large wildfire near Medicine Lodge that has been burning since Tuesday. The blaze, which has been deemed the Anderson Creek Fire, remains about 15 percent contained.

Fire crews have been able to keep the perimeter of the fire from growing and are focusing their efforts on interior pockets of the blaze. Estimates put the total acreage affected in both Kansas and Oklahoma at more than 620 square miles.

Shawna Hartman with the Kansas Forestry Service says visibility has improved, but plumes of dark smoke are visible on the horizon.

“The smoke has settled to where you can actually kind of feel the grit in your teeth and you’re getting some fallout on your clothes when you walk to your car,” she says.

Hartman says the biggest concern for crews today will be the weather. Winds are expected to reach as high as 30 miles per hour through Friday evening.

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