Wildfires Devour the Central US, Killing Several and Damaging Homes
Wildfires burning for two days in the Texas panhandle (Courtesy: KAMR)

Wildfires Devour the Central US, Killing Several and Damaging Homes

Fires have burned across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. At least four have been reported as dead due to the powerful wildfire and thousands of people are forced to leave their homes.

In Kansas, wildfires have burned about 625 square miles of land, said Katie Horner, the spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Emergency Management. She said the largest evacuations were in Reno County, where 10,000 to 12,000 people voluntarily left their homes Monday night. Additionally, 66 people from the area were from shelters in Hutchinson, which is 40 miles northwest of Wichita, as crews continued fighting fires that started over the weekend.

Out of the 8 counties in Kansas to be attacked by the fires, the largest one was in Clark county where roughly 545 miles have burned. More than 900 residents were evacuated Monday afternoon as fires that began in Oklahoma raged onward. Horner stated that 30 structures were damaged and bridges have been compromised.

Among the people who were forced to evacuate, Shelley Wilson, who fled Monday with her disabled son and pets from a blaze that was encompassing her farm outside of Hutchinson. She returned later that night with her adult daughter to retrieve her tractor.

“I don’t know if I have a home to go home to,” Wilson said at the shelter Tuesday as her daughter did her best to lighten her mood. “In case I needed to rebuild, I wanted to at least have my tractor.”

In the Texas Panhandle, three fires have burned over 195 square miles of land and have killed at least four people. A wildfire in Gray County, also in the Texas Panhandle, killed three ranch hands who were trying to usher cattle away from the flames, said Judge Richard Peet, the county’s head administrator. One of the three had died from smoke inhalation whilst the other two were burned badly and died on the way to the hospital.

Forest Service spokesman Phillip Truitt said as many as four firefighters were hurt battling the fires Monday. He provided no details on their conditions Tuesday morning.

In Colorado, a fire in rural Logan County burned more than 45 square miles, forced the evacuation of three schools and threatened as many as 900 homes. The Logan County Emergency Management Office said at least four structures, including three homes, were destroyed.


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