March 8 The threat of wildfires is expected to
remain high on Wednesday in the U.S. Plains, where prairie fires
have claimed six lives, prompted thousands of evacuations and
destroyed numerous structures.
Fire weather advisories remained in effect in parts of
Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas where firefighters
continued to battle wildfires stoked by high winds and
tinder-dry vegetation over the last several days.
Low humidity along with 15 to 25 mph (25 to 40 kph) winds
and ongoing drought conditions will continue to create elevated
fire dangers throughout the region, the National Weather Service
said in its advisories that also included Missouri and Nebraska.
Cooler temperatures, diminishing winds and a chance of rain
were in the forecast for parts of the region over the weekend,
but the weather service warned that the threat of wildfires
remained in effect.
"Winds will be considerably lighter through the middle to
latter part of the week. This will result in less threatening
fire weather conditions. However, a limited to elevated risk
will continue, given the dry conditions," the service said.
The fires killed four people, including three ranch hands
racing to herd livestock to safety, in the Texas Panhandle. One
motorist died in Kansas on Monday from smoke inhalation,
A woman in Oklahoma suffered a heart attack while trying to
move cattle from harm's way and died, NBC News reported.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared an emergency in 22
counties hit by wildfires.
The Perryton fire blackened more than 300,000 acres (121,000
hectares) and destroyed two homes in the Texas Panhandle and was
50 percent contained, authorities said.
Wildfires in northwestern Oklahoma prompted evacuations of
multiple towns, according to state officials, who said more than
10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) have burned.
At least 10,000 residents in central Kansas were asked to
evacuate their homes due to a wildfire in Reno County, where
about 230 responders were on the scene, the county's emergency
management agency said.
More than 650,000 acres (263,000 hectares) also have burned
in Kansas, according to the state's emergency management agency.
Firefighters battling a 30,000-acre (12,000-hectare)
grassland fire in northeastern Colorado extended containment
lines to 80 percent of the blaze's perimeter on Tuesday. Five
homes were lost in the flames, a spokeswoman for Phillips County
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Toby