Unsafe conditions lead to wildfire outbreaks across the US

Smoke from Texas Wildfires Blowing into Big Country

Governor Fallin has declared a state of emergency for northwest Oklahoma. He said temperatures should peak in the 70s, with afternoon humidity low.

Residents can help further first responder's efforts, Truitt said, by following burn bans and preparing a space around their homes for firefighters.

"They were trying to move cattle away from the oncoming fire", he said in a telephone interview.

Numerous grass fires grew rapidly on Monday due to dry weather and parched prairie land in the Texas Panhandle, north and western Oklahoma and southern Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol said tractor-trailer driver Corey Holt, of Oklahoma City, was killed Monday when his rig jackknifed as he tried to backup because of poor visibility on Highway 34 in Clark County, which is on Kansas' southern border with Oklahoma. Two SUVs crashed into the truck, injuring six people, state trooper Michael Racy said.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Katie Horner says an estimated 861 square miles of land have been blackened in Comanche and Clark counties as of Wednesday.

Monitoring is crucial because the ground is "extremely dry", and it was possible that sparks from a smoldering stump could re-ignite the fire, said John Lehman, the emergency manager in Comanche County, where 234 square miles has burned. "I know that", said Brian Ryles, a Forest Ranger with the Oklahoma Forestry Service.

There were fires in 21 different counties on Monday, with firefighters having to be withdrawn in northeast Kansas at one point because of a tornado.

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"When we were fighting (the fire), they said they were stationing water at my brother's house on our farm north of Haxtun", he said.

There is an immediate need for hay, feed, fencing supplies, individuals willing to provide trucking, etc. for the farmers and ranchers devastated by yesterday's fires.

"Conditions are very unsafe today and we are urging everyone to use extreme caution and avoid any activity that can cause a spark", Oklahoma Forestry Director George Geissler said in a statement.

The fires forced the evacuations of several small towns and the closure of some roads, including a couple of short stretches of Interstate 70 in Lincoln County and nearby Ellsworth County in the central part of the state. One of the three apparently died of smoke inhalation Monday night and the other two were badly burned and died on the way to hospitals, he said. He provided no details on their conditions Tuesday morning. The fire is now contained, with the exception of hay stacks that ranchers are now using loaders to spread and extinguish.

A Red Flag Warning continues today across Alfalfa, Blaine, Caddo, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Kingfisher, Logan, Major, Noble, Nowata, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Payne, Rogers, Tulsa, Washington, Woods, and Woodward Counties. Officials said the fire had destroyed at least five homes and 15 outbuildings, though no serious injuries were reported. He expects damage estimates to start by later this week, if not the weekend, that is if more fires don't spark up.

And in Colorado, a wildfire covering almost 50 square miles had destroyed multiple buildings as of Tuesday, when the Denver Post reported it was 80 percent contained.

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