Fire crews in Kansas and Oklahoma are now desperately trying to contain wildfires that have burned down numerous buildings, scorched hundreds of thousands of acres of land, and prompted countless evacuations.
Oklahoma authorities said that the largest blaze occurred on the exact spot near the state border with Kansas where another fire emerged last month. About 300 people living in Freedom were evacuated.
Matt Lehenbauer of the Woods County Emergency Management said that the fire couldn’t be contained as wind was blowing at over 40 mph. On Tuesday evening, the blaze calmed down near the Cimarron River in the proximity of the town of Freedom. The local fire department, however, said that they would still be watching the fire because it could start burning uncontrolled again if it made it to the other side of the river.
Hannah Anderson, a spokesperson for Oklahoma Forestry Services, said that buildings and other structures were burned down by the wildfire and by another blaze in central Oklahoma. The agency couldn’t say the exact amount of damage done so far.
According to official estimates, wildfires swept through about 40 square miles of land in Oklahoma alone. Oklahoma Forestry Services and over a dozen fire departments took part in the operation to put the fires out.
No person was harmed due to the fires in either of the two states.
Authorities said that it is not the first time this year Oklahoma and Kansas get swept by wildfires. In March, another blaze started in the exact location near Freedom, crossed the border to Kansas and scorched down about 574 square miles of land in its path.
Tuesday’s fire represented only a moderate risk to several structures around Freedom and an iodine-producing plant. Authorities said that it was crucial to keep the plant out of harm’s way as it could produce an ecological disaster if it were to catch fire.
Authorities have knowledge of a second blaze in the central part of Oklahoma. Eight fire departments responded the call to extinguish that fire that started about 25 miles from Oklahoma City.
As of Tuesday night, local authorities were able to contain the fire and prevent it from advancing further southwest. Riley County officials in Kansas said that up to 150 people living in mobile homes were urged to evacuate the area. In the county, the blaze scorched just 1 square mile of land before fire crews managed to contain it.
In Morton County the situation was more critical as the blaze got dangerously close to the town of Wilburton, while in Geary County eight households were evacuated.
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