Several dead as wildfires destroy more than 1M acres in 4 states

Several dead as wildfires destroy more than 1M acres in 4 states

07 March 2017

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USA —  March 7 (UPI) — At least six people have died as the result of multiple wildfires that are burning across the Midwest and Texas, authorities said Tuesday.

Fires in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado continued to burn late Tuesday, covering about 1.2 million acres of land.

At least four of the dead were in the Texas panhandle, one was reported in Kansas and another suffered a fatal heart attack as she prepared to evacuate in Oklahoma.

“We are in a situation that can quickly become dangerous for the public and even firefighters due to the extreme fire weather conditions that can rapidly develop this time of the year,” George Geissler, director of Oklahoma Forestry Services,

The largest blaze, the Perryton fire in Lipscomb and Ochiltree counties in Texas, was at nearly 300,000 acres Tuesday and was only about 5 percent contained. Another fire in Gray County burned nearly 100,000 acres, and across the border in Beaver County, Okla., a blaze has destroyed nearly 200,000 acres. A wildfire in Clark County, Kan., is estimated at about 350,000 acres and other, smaller fires varying in size are burning elsewhere in the region.

At least five firefighters were injured while fighting flames near Amarillo, Texas, officials said, where multiple fires merged into one large blaze that’s reported to be about 15 miles across, CNN reported Tuesday.

Red flag warnings and fire watches reflecting serious fire danger — from northern Iowa to northern Oklahoma and including most of Missouri and Kansas — were issued and are expected to last into Wednesday afternoon.

In Logan County, Colo., a wildfire destroyed at least three homes, evacuated three schools and triggered pre-evacuation notices for nearly 1,000 more homes, county officials said.

The Logan fire was first reported Monday morning and consumed 30,000 acres within several hours, county spokesperson Lyle Mouton said. Wind gusts of more than 60 mph expanded the fire. Area roads, including Interstate 76, were closed until Monday evening.

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