The Latest: Oklahoma governor declares state of emergency

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Posted: Apr 06, 2016 6:50 PM
The Latest: Oklahoma governor declares state of emergency

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in Oklahoma and Kansas (all times local):

5:27 p.m.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has declared state of emergency in 10 new counties to aid local jurisdictions affected by wildfires.

Fallin on Wednesday amended an executive order from March declaring a state of emergency in Woods County. The 10 new counties covered by the order are Alfalfa, Blaine, Creek, Dewey, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Logan, Major and Woodward.

The previous state of emergency remains active in Woods County.

The declaration enables state agencies to make emergency purchases to quickly assist local jurisdictions that have been affected by damaging events like wildfires. A statement from Fallin's office says the order is also "the first step" enabling farmers and ranchers to seek federal aid, if needed.

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4:50 p.m.

Kansas authorities say wildfires in several Kansas counties have been largely contained.

The Kansas Adjutant General's office said in an emailed statement Wednesday that the fires in the northeast Kansas counties of Wabaunsee, Geary, Riley and Pottawatomie are for the most part contained. The office says crews continue to monitor small smoldering patches in the region.

The office also says a grass fire in Morton County in southwest Kansas has been contained with the exception of hot spots.

The grassfire in northern Oklahoma is also no longer threatening Comanche County, Kansas.

The adjutant general's office also says the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka has returned to normal operations but is maintaining contact with local officials in the affected counties.

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3:15 p.m.

Officials monitoring a large wildfire in northwest Oklahoma confirm they have lifted voluntary evacuation orders.

Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer says regional orders to evacuate about 100 square miles of Woodward County were allowed to expire Tuesday night.

Officials were wary Tuesday as the fire spread toward the small town of Freedom, urging the town's roughly 300 residents to leave for the nearby city of Alva. Woods County Emergency Management Director Steve Foster says the evacuation advisory in Freedom expired around midnight after the fire's northeastern front stalled on the west bank of the Cimarron River.

Although Lehenbauer says the fire is not currently threatening a highly populated area, any shift in wind direction could alter that assessment.

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11:45 a.m.

More than 18 square miles of rangeland has burned in the latest Kansas wildfires.

Ben Bauman, spokesman for the Kansas Adjutant General's Office, says two homes, one mobile home and at least eight outbuildings were destroyed Tuesday. Residents of several rural communities were urged to leave their homes before the blazes were brought mostly under control.

No injuries have been reported.

In northern Kansas, fires burned about 6,000 acres in Geary County, about 600 acres in Wabaunsee County and more than 1,500 acres in Riley County. Another 3,800 acres burned in Morton County in extreme southwest Kansas.

The blazes come less than a month after a fire that started in Oklahoma and spread into Kansas, burning hundreds of square miles. Most of the damage was in Kansas' Barber County.

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10:45 a.m.

Oklahoma forestry officials say a large wildfire that has burned 86 square miles of rangeland was caused by power lines.

Oklahoma Forestry Services Director George Geissler says arcing power lines are to blame for the blaze in northwest Oklahoma, located about 170 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

That area of Oklahoma saw wind gusts of 50 mph on Tuesday, which caused the power lines to arc into the dry grass, sparking the fire. Forestry spokeswoman Hannah Anderson says the blaze has not been contained at all, but that no new evacuation orders have been issued.

Anderson says a separate fire burning in Logan County in central Oklahoma is 80 percent contained. That blaze burned just under 1 square mile of land near the city of Luther.

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9 a.m.

Crews are fighting wildfires in northern Kansas, where forecasters are warning of dangerous fire conditions.

Riley County emergency management director Pat Collins says embers from an approximately 300-acre fire started by fence welders destroyed a mobile home. Collins says crews are also battling a 1,000-acre blaze and a third fire that has burned several hundred acres elsewhere in Riley County.

In nearby Geary County, a fire that burned 6,000 acres of mostly pastureland Tuesday is under control. Assistant Geary County emergency manager Curt Janke says no homes burned.

Crews also have been fighting wildfires in Morton County in the southwest of the state and Wabaunsee County in the north, while keeping an eye on a large Oklahoma blaze to make sure it doesn't cross into Kansas.

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6:50 a.m.

Shifting winds have pushed a large wildfire in northwest Oklahoma away from an iodine-manufacturing plant and the small town of Freedom, but authorities say the blaze is still burning out of control.

Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer says the wildfire did not jump the Cimarron River overnight, which would have threatened Freedom, whose 300 residents were encouraged to leave Tuesday afternoon.

But Lehenbauer says Wednesday's windy forecast will make it difficult for firefighters to control the blaze, which has burned about 40 square miles of rural land. Crews plan to survey the fire by air Wednesday morning to assess its size.

Lehenbauer says the blaze had threatened an iodine plant but firefighters were able to protect the facility by parking their firetrucks around its perimeter. He says the flames jumped over the vehicles and burned all the way around the plant before the winds shifted, diminishing the threat.

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1:50 a.m.

Authorities are responding to wildfires in Oklahoma and Kansas that have led to evacuations, scorched mostly rural land and destroyed an unknown number of structures.

In Oklahoma, the largest fire was in the same area near the border with Kansas where blazes last month scorched hundreds of square miles. Another burned near Luther, in the central part of the state.

Oklahoma Forestry Services said in a statement that structures had been lost in the fire, but a spokeswoman says the agency doesn't have accurate damage totals yet.

In Kansas, evacuations were underway in at least three communities.

The National Weather Service warns conditions conducive to fire are forecast to occur in both states through Wednesday.