High winds fuel several large fires in Kansas and Oklahoma

High winds fuel several large fires in Kansas and Oklahoma
Elk County Rural Fire Department
Photo courtesy: Elk County Rural Fire Department

Firefighters put out several large grass fires across southeast Kansas and eastern Oklahoma.

In Elk County, Kansas, firefighters battled a large fire for 8 hours. Crews from Chautauqua County, Montgomery County, Labette County, Greenwood County, Wilson County, and several townships responded with fire trucks.

According to the Elk County Sheriff’s Office, the area had winds of 50 mph and higher wind gusts.

Elk County EMS, Elk County Emergency Management and the American Red Cross also helped out where they could. The Sheriff’s Office says even residents helped by providing water, Gatorade and food for the firefighters.

Crews got the fire under control around 3:00 a.m. on November 27th. There were evacuations, however, as of 4:45 a.m., no reports of injuries or homes burned by the fire have been reported.

The fire reportedly burned through several thousand acres.

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9:15pm…GOES-16 satellite continues to show large grass fire burning just north of the Elk/Chautauqua county line. At 8:45pm, dispatch indicted that the fire was not yet under control. #kswx pic.twitter.com/D9hh8YLk5V

— NWS Wichita (@NWSWichita) November 27, 2019

In Cherokee County, Kansas, crews put out a large, fast moving grass fire near NE 20th and NE Bethlehem, outside Columbus. The Columbus Kansas Fire Rescue is asking that no burning is conducted until further notice.

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In Oklahoma, the State Emergency Operations Center was activated because of extreme wildfire danger. In a 24-hour period, fires were reported near at least 14 cities and counties statewide, according to CBS affiliate KOTV.

In northeast Oklahoma, 10 firefighter agencies responded to put out a grass fire near Dewey in Washington County. Grass and hay bales were burning. The fire was threatening 15-20 buildings. More than 1,200 acres burned, according to FOX affiliate FOX23.

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In northwest Oklahoma, authorities say wind-whipped wildfires forced residents from their homes. The fire destroyed two single-family residences were mostly contained Wednesday as cooler temperatures and gentler winds reduced the fire danger.

Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer says two homes and several outbuildings were destroyed by a fire Tuesday that also forced residents from their homes in the towns of Fargo, Gage and Mooreland.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said Wednesday there were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities, and authorities were still investigating the cause of the fires.

The agency says the federal government already has approved the state’s request for grant money to help reimburse local governments, volunteer fire departments and first responders for costs associated with fighting the fires.

Updates to the story are ongoing.

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