Anderson Creek Fire

File/Reno County Fire District #6

Much of Kansas is under a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service for strong winds and dry conditions.

With the potential for dangerous grassland fires through Wednesday, forecasters elevated the fire danger levels in central and south-central Kansas to extreme and catastrophic categories.

Meteorologist Kevin Darmofal with the National Weather Service Office in Wichita says the dry winter and current conditions create a dangerous situation.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Two weeks ago, a massive wildfire spread into Kansas from northern Oklahoma. It left behind more than 600 square miles of blackened land in its wake.

Responders from dozens of state and local agencies battled the fire as it burned out of control for several days. Many of the emergency responders in Barber County, Kansas, were volunteers who were trying to protect their own homes, those of their neighbors, and their herds of cattle. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur toured some of the damage with a man who’s been fighting Kansas wildfires for 25 years.

A multi-agency relief effort is underway to help farmers and ranchers in southern Kansas who face losses due to the Anderson Creek Fire.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Now that the wildfires in south-central Kansas have largely been brought under control, the search is on for missing cattle. The animals scattered in all directions when grass fires burned down hundreds of miles of fencing.

Gaten Wood, Barber County attorney and spokesman for emergency operations in Medicine Lodge, says they have not yet calculated the total number of livestock lost to the fire, but that reports say as many as 150 cattle have been lost.

Courtesy Gimmie Jo Jansonius

Forestry officials report the wildfire in southern Kansas is now 95 percent contained, and crews will continue to patrol and monitor the fire line, looking for hot spots.

Farmers and ranchers in Barber County are starting to assess the extensive damage to their land, livelihood and the community.

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.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Update from The AP:

Friday March 25, 10:15 a.m.

A Kansas livestock official says the wildfire that scorched hundreds of square miles in Oklahoma and southern Kansas has displaced cattle and destroyed miles of fencing.

Todd Domer, spokesman for the Kansas Livestock Association, said Friday the most immediate problem for Kansas ranchers affected by the fire in Barber and Comanche counties is locating cattle that escaped when fences burned. He says ranchers are also working to figure out how many cattle may have died.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

A massive wildfire has burned through more than 625 square miles in Oklahoma and Kansas, forcing Governor Sam Brownback to issue a state of disaster emergency.

Hundreds of firefighters were dispatched to areas of southern Kansas to try and contain a wildfire. Government officials say the worst of it is over, with fire crews from Wichita heading home just after 7 in the morning.

There are reports of structural damage here in Medicine Lodge, as well as in Reno County.