UPDATE - 12 p.m., Thursday 03/24/16: Crews Fight Another Kansas Wildfire
KIOWA, Kan. (AP) — Another grass fire has started burning in Kansas, several counties northeast of a massive two-state blaze. The Harvey County sheriff's office says on Facebook that multiple homes have been evacuated as crews fight the blaze. A shelter for displaced residents has been established at a high school. The post says several small structures have been damaged but that no injuries have been reported. A sheriff's department official wasn't able to immediately comment on the size of the Harvey County fire. The National Weather Service says wind gusts of up to 50 mph were reported early Thursday in nearby Wichita. Winds had died down to 30 mph around daybreak and were expected to continue losing strength.
KIOWA, Kan. (AP) - Hundreds of firefighters are battling a wildfire that authorities estimate has burned 625 square miles in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas. The worst damage in Kansas is in Barber and Comanche counties, where the fire continues to burn today (THUR). A Forestry Services official says crews are surveying the fire by aircraft and more concrete numbers will be available once that's complete. Fourteen patients were evacuated from a small hospital in rural southern Kansas because of the wildfire. Medicine Lodge Memorial Hospital sent 12 patients to a nursing home Wednesday night and two others to a nearby hospital. Strong winds have complicated the firefight. The National Weather Service reported gusts of 45 to 50 mph on Wednesday. Governor Sam Brownback has declared a state of disaster emergency for some of the affected areas, authorizing state resources to assist.