Wildfire burns across thousands of acres in Kansas, Oklahoma

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KIOWA, Kan. (AP) – Fire crews were working to contain a wildfire burning across at least 75 square miles in rural Oklahoma and Kansas on Wednesday, while strong wind and dry conditions also increased fire threats in neighboring states, authorities said.

The National Weather Service said the fire started Tuesday night near the Kansas border in Woods County, Oklahoma. Wind gusts of up to 30 mph helped spread the blaze into in western Kansas, where about a dozen homes were evacuated.

No injuries have been reported in either state, and none of the evacuated houses in Kansas’ Comanche County has been damaged, county emergency management coordinator John Lehman said. But he noted that wind speeds were increasing and complicating firefighting efforts.

“With this kind of wind, it’s going to be kind of bad,” he said.

About 65 firetrucks and hundreds of firefighters were helping to gradually contain the blaze, which occasionally whipped into canyons, Lehman said. Oil field crews have hauled water to the scene in tractor-trailers to help.

Parts of New Mexico and northwest Texas also were at extreme risk for wildfires on Wednesday because of warm, windy, dry conditions, according to the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. The area covers more than 120,000 square miles and includes the cities of Lubbock, Texas; Oklahoma City; and Wichita and Topeka in Kansas.

The Oklahoma Forestry Services warned local fire departments that conditions would worsen through the afternoon and evening, with winds expected to shift and spread existing fires in new directions.

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