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Hay Sought for Kansas, Oklahoma Ranchers After Massive Wildfire

A firefighter crew douses a line of grass fire about 15 miles southwest of Medicine Lodge on Thursday, March 24, 2016.  More than 200 firefighters are battling an active fire line stretching 30 to 40 miles long in Barber County.  (Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

UPDATE: ​The Kansas Department of Agriculture reports that the hay needs of ranchers in the wildfire zone have been met for the time being. Kansas Livestock Association CEO Matt Teagarden and local organizers in Barber and Comanche counties expressed their appreciation for all the people who donated or transported hay to affected ranchers. Cash donations are still being sought, and several different fundraisers are scheduled. For more information or to make a donation, visit the Kansas Livestock Association website


MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Hay donations are being sought for ranchers whose land burned in a massive wildfire in Kansas and Oklahoma. The Kansas Livestock Association says it's accepting cash donations and that farmers' cooperatives in two Kansas communities are collecting hay donations. Hundreds of firefighters have been battling the blaze that started Tuesday in Oklahoma and spread into Kansas. As of Thursday, it had consumed 620 square miles of mostly farmland and ranch land in the two states. Kansas Incident Management Team spokeswoman Kathleen Fabrizius says officials are planning to fly over the area today (FRI) to evaluate the damage. Smoke from the blaze has been detected hundreds of miles away in St. Louis. At least one home has burned, but no serious injuries have been reported.

Meteorologists say the weather conditions could make it hard for crews to make headway against the fire that's scorched hundreds of square miles of sparsely-populated parts of Oklahoma and Kansas. The National Weather Service says wind gusts of up to 30 mph are expected to last from this (FRI) morning through the afternoon. Meteorologist Bill Turner says the big challenge will be keeping the fire from spreading again once the south wind picks up. He says the wind could blow sparks onto unburnt land. The blaze has consumed at least 620 square miles since it began on Tuesday. 

Wildfire Displaces Cattle in Kansas and Missouri

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas livestock official says the wildfires in Oklahoma and southern Kansas have displaced cattle and destroyed miles of fencing. Todd Domer, spokesman for the Kansas Livestock Association, says 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. The KLA is raising funds to help replace the fencing, which he estimates covered tens of thousands of miles. Domer also says there would also have been a lot of newborn calves this time of year that may have either been separated from their mothers or been killed in the fire.


(newscast version #1)

Wildfires Rage on Across Four Kansas Counties

Massive grass fires continue to burn across four counties in south-central Kansas.  So far, more than 400,000 acres of land have been charred in Barber, Comanche, Harvey and Reno counties.  No one has been killed, but officials say it's likely many head of cattle have been lost.  

That's Ben Bauman, with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, who says several structures -- and miles of fencing -- have also been damaged or destroyed in what's being called the largest wildfire in state history. 


(newscast version #2)

Largest Wildfire in State History Rages Across Four Kansas Counties

State officials say more than 600 square miles of largely rural land have been burned by grass fires in south-central Kansas.  Ben Bauman is with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, which is monitoring the wildfires in Barber, Comanche, Harvey and Reno counties.

Officials believe the fires have killed livestock, including an unknown number of cattle.  Several structures and miles of fencing have also been damaged or destroyed in what's being described as the largest wildfire in state history.

Ben Bauman: Wildfires Have Likely Killed Cattle, Calves

Ben Bauman: Too Early to Calculate Damage Estimates

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