Latest: Kansas order hastens relief to fire-scarred state

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Posted: Mar 09, 2017 6:36 PM
Latest: Kansas order hastens relief to fire-scarred state

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is easing the state's motor-carrier laws to help hasten deliveries of relief supplies to farmers and ranchers affected by massive wildfires.

The Republican on Thursday signed an executive order waiving certain transportation regulations to make it easier to immediately deliver large quantities of hay, feed, fencing materials and other relief items.

Since last weekend, wildfires in Kansas have charred more than 1,000 square miles of land and damaged or destroyed dozens of structures.

The firefight Thursday was focused on four counties, down from 21 on Monday.

One blaze, encompassing two counties along Kansas' southern border with Oklahoma, is the biggest wildfire on record in Kansas.

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3:30 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is suspending some permit requirements and transportation restrictions so supplies of hay can more quickly get to ranchers in eight counties in the Texas Panhandle where wildfires this week have burned about 750 square miles.

Abbott's order Thursday covers transport of round hay bales and also includes waivers for shipments coming into the disaster area from other Texas counties.

The governor says he doesn't want state regulations to be unnecessary impediments to the emergency transport of hay to ranchers in Carson, Gray, Hemphill, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Potter, Roberts and Wheeler counties.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is asking shippers to contact the agency if their loads top 14 feet in height.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension says about 4,200 large round bales of hay are needed to feed displaced animals over the next two weeks.

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2 p.m.

Texas agriculture officials are scrambling to secure feed and other supplies for approximately 10,000 cattle and horses that fled this week from wildfires in the Texas Panhandle.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension says in a statement that about 4,200 large round bales of hay are needed to feed displaced animals over the next two weeks.

Trucks to shuttle animals from one location to another and fencing are among the needs as ranchers recover from the fires that killed four people and burned about 750 square miles. Wildfires also ravaged parts of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Texas Cattle Feeders Association spokeswoman Jayce Winters says preliminary counts indicate about 1,500 cattle were killed in the fires, but a more precise accounting could be days or weeks away.

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1:05 p.m.

A high school basketball team in a Kansas county ravaged by wildfire will receive donations from its competitor while playing in a state championship game.

Ashland High School is getting help from Wallace County High School. The teams are preparing for a Thursday night game. The winner will go on to the semifinals for the state's smallest schools.

Ashland High is in Clark County, where 625 square miles have burned amid a series of wildfires in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Wallace County is looking to pay it forward after receiving support in 2015 while competing in a football playoff game days after athlete Luke Schemm collapsed on the sideline and later died. Ingalls High School held a fundraiser and joined the Wallace County team in wearing stickers on their helmets to honor Schemm.

Clark County emergency management spokeswoman Allison Kuhns says, "This is what small towns are all about."

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12:10 p.m.

Officials say two of the three fires that have burned the Texas Panhandle this week are fully contained and firefighters are tamping down the largest of the three.

The Texas A&M Forest Service says a fire in the northeast corner of the Panhandle near the Oklahoma border has burned nearly 500 square miles and was 75 percent contained Thursday.

A separate fire just to the south was fully contained after burning about 210 square miles. A smaller fire to the west, near Amarillo, was fully contained by firefighters Tuesday.

Four people have died in the Texas fires, while a fifth person was killed in Oklahoma and another person died in Kansas.

Three of the people killed in Texas were trying to usher cattle away from the flames when they were overcome.

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8:30 a.m.

Fire crews are expecting slower winds as they work to extinguish blazes that have scorched hundreds of square miles of land in four states and killed six people.

Most of the burned land is in Kansas, where more than 1,000 square miles has been consumed in a series of fires. One that spans two counties along Kansas' southern border with Oklahoma is the largest in the state's recorded history.

Emergency officials in the two counties said Thursday morning that the fire is largely contained, with crews working to monitor hot spots.

Comanche County Emergency Manager John Lehman says the ground is "extremely dry," so it's possible the fire could re-ignite.

In neighboring Clark County, emergency management spokeswoman Allison Kuhns says "frankly there not much left to burn."