Hundreds of firefighters battled a wildfire that burned over 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma, with about two-thirds of the burning occuring in Kansas. The governor of Kansas declared a State of Emergency on March 23rd, after 45 mph winds caused the fire to grow rapidly. The grass fire was first reported around 5:45 p.m. on March 22nd, in Woods County, Oklahoma. The fire was so large that radar sweeps picked it up, as winds helped spread it north into Kansas.
A statement from the Kansas Adjutant General’s office early March 24th declared the fire “under control” in Comanche County, but not yet to the east in Barber County. It added that voluntary evacuations had ended in the Lake City and Sun City communities. Fire officials stated that numerous communities and structures (800 to 1,000 homes) remained under threat as of March 25th. Two houses to the north of Medicine Lodge and two bridges in Barber County were destroyed by the fire.
Fire officials in Barber County anticipated that the blaze would continue through March 25th and were hopeful that they could get better control of it over the subsequent days. The National Weather Service said 25 mph winds are forecast in the area until noon on the 25th, when they were expected to drop to 15 mph and then to 10 mph by sunset. Humidity levels were also expected to improve throughout the day, making progress on containment more likely. As of March 25, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
Image of the Anderson Creek Fire courtesy of the Oklahoma Forestry Services