By Brooks Barber | Updated: Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 9:00 PM
On Tuesday, March 22, what is now being called the Anderson Creek Fire began in Woods County, Oklahoma. With abnormally dry conditions across the area and gusty winds, the fire rapidly grew and crossed into Comanche and Barber Counties Wednesday. Conditions worsened through Wednesday prompting Kansas Governor Brownback to declare a State of Disaster Emergency for the two south central Kansas counties. By late in the day, voluntary evacuations were underway in Medicine Lodge and the hospital and jail were evacuated as a precautionary action. Unfortunately two residences were burned to the ground in Medicine Lodge, but widespread disaster and tragedy was adverted for the community.
As of Thursday night, 15% of the Anderson Creek Fire has been contained and nearly 400,000 acres had been burned across Woods, Comanche, and Barber Counties.
In addition to the Anderson Creek Fire, another wildfire started in Reno County and expanded to Harvey County Wednesday evening. About a dozen residences were evacuated voluntarily and three homes were lost. The fire was reported to be contained as of Thursday evening after burning over 3,500 acres across the two counties.
According to emergency officials, the Anderson Creek Wildfire which began Tuesday in Oklahoma and rapidly expanded into Kansas Wednesday is now 15 percent contained in Barber County. The voluntary evacuations have been lifted for Medicine Lodge as of Thursday night. Two homes have been destroyed along with many out buildings with another 2,500 homes, 500 commercial properties, and 4,000 other minor structures threatened earlier.
Barber County officials reported that 14 patients were evacuated from the Medicine Lodge Hospital to Harper County Wednesday as a precautionary action. These patients were brought back to Medicine Lodge Thursday.
Governor Sam Brownback has declared a State of Disaster Emergency for the area of south central Kansas threatened by major wildfires, including Comanche and Barber Counties. The declaration authorizes state resources to assist communities impacted by the fires.
Fortunately no fatalities have resulted from the fire nor have any serious injuries been reported.
The Oklahoma Forestry Service released this map which shows the vast area that has been affected by the wildfires. Fire has scorched nearly 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma and almost 170,000 of that is in Barber County alone.
The burn scar from the Anderson Creek Fire as seen from space Thursday afternoon. Nearly 400,000 acres has burned in Kansas and Oklahoma since the fire started Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
By Wednesday evening around sunset smoke clouded the skies over Wichita turning the sun red. In addition to this, Wichita and many other locations across south central, central, and northeast Kansas reported ash falling from the sky.
35 thousand feet in the air, a traveler captures this shot of the wildfire burning near the Kansas/Oklahoma border Wednesday night from the window of an airplane. Courtesy The Expendables on Facebook
Early on the evening of Wednesday, March 23, 2016, crews responded to battle a wildfire near Burrton in Harvey County, Kansas. By Wednesday night, 12 homes in the area had been evacuated and the fire covered about 35,000 acres in Reno and Harvey Counties. The fires continued to expand north-northeast overnight with gusty winds.
Three homes were destroyed by the fires, two of the residences being in Reno County and the other located in Harvey County. Multiple out buildings and livestock have also been lost.
By late in the afternoon Thursday, the fire had been contained near Burrton. It is estimated that 19,200 acres were burned, or 30 square miles. This is rather significant indeed, but is very small compared to the historic Anderson Creek fire that burned nearly 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma this week.