Largest Prairie Fire in Kansas History

UW Arboretum staff manage a prescribed prairie fire burn at Greene Prairie during autumn. © UW-Madison University Communications  608/262-0067 Photo by:  Jeff Miller Date:  11/00     File#:   color slide

Large forest fires have ravaged the landscape of the midwest in the past weeks. The prairie fire started in Oklahoma on March 22. The fire now has spread to the nearby states Texas, New Mexico and most notably Kansas. The fires in New Mexico and Texas were relatively small, New Mexico’s being only three square miles and Texas’ being more than 50,000 acres according to The Weather Channel. The state that is really feeling the heat is Kansas. The fire has burned “620 square miles, roughly 397,000 acres” reports the Weather Channel.

These numbers place this prairie fire as the “largest in Kansas history and one of the largest in U.S. history” according to the Kansas Forest Service. Of the 397,000 acres burned, nearly 273,000 of them are allocated to Barber County. Luckily there have been no injuries reported, a small sigh of relief for the residents that saw their land burned.

Prevailing strong wind associated with Winter Storm Selene have been a large contributor to the seemingly endless growing inferno. Winter Storm Selene wasn’t the only thing that created and maintained the situation, that week, in the affected areas. The states were struck with low humidity and overall dryness throughout.  These conditions, namely the wind, have blown the smoke from these fires all the way to St. Louis which is 460 miles away according to the Weather Channel.

To fight these flames Kansas has evacuated dozens of homes as brought out 65 fire truck and hundreds of firefighters say KSN.com. Kansas also had to evacuate Medicine Lodge where the police who were evacuating wore masks to ward off the ash reports KSN.com. The state had to close off parts of highway 160 where the fire crossed and though the fire did nothing, it still affects the lives of the people in the area. These people, most likely farmers, had to stand by as they saw and heard accounts of their home, fields, and livestock were consumed by the fire. And, finally according to the Incurrence Journal budget cuts could be to blame for the speed at which the fires were felt with.

These fires and others like this are dangerous and can take someone’s life whether that be figurative, burning their livelihood, or literal, killing people. They are most certainly something that should be taken very seriously.

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