Crews Work to Control KS, OK Wildfire

KIOWA, Kan. (AP) -- A wildfire that has burned nearly 110 square miles in rural Kansas and Oklahoma still poses a threat, but conditions are improving in the two counties most affected, authorities said.

Ben Bauman, director of public affairs for the Kansas Department of the Adjutant General, said in a statement early Thursday that the fire was under control in Comanche County. The fire in adjacent Barber County had improved but was still being monitored.

No injuries have been reported in either state.

The blaze went around the town of Medicine Lodge, where authorities said earlier that up to 1,000 structures were threatened and a voluntary evacuation order was issued, Bauman said. One home and outbuilding were destroyed on the outskirts of town.

In Wichita, about 85 miles northeast of Medicine Lodge, ash fell from the sky, the Wichita Eagle reported. The fire also forced the closure of a stretch of U.S. 160 and U.S. 281.

Gov. Sam Brownback has declared a state of disaster emergency for some areas, authorizing state resources to assist.

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 Kansas.

Dozens of fire trucks and hundreds of firefighters were helping to contain the blaze, John Lehman, the Comanche County emergency management coordinator, said Wednesday. Oil field crews hauled water to the scene in tractor-trailers to help.

Mark Goeller, fire management chief of Oklahoma Forestry Services, said an airplane was also being used to dump water on the flames.

(KA)