Wildfires kill 7 in central US, force evacuations while charring over 1 million acres

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
March 13, 2017, 12:11:27 PM EDT

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Wildfires have claimed the lives of as many as seven people across multiple states in the central U.S., consuming as many as one million acres.

Firefighters continue to battle wildfires in Amarillo, Texas, and surrounding areas in the panhandle. According to KFDA-TV in Amarillo, three people died in Gray County while they were trying to save cattle in the area. Some cattle did not make it through the fire.

KAMR reported that a fourth fatality was reported in Lipscomb County. Another was reported in Ochiltree County.

Three other people died due to wildfires in Kansas and Oklahoma. A 63-year-old woman near Buffalo, Oklahoma, died from a heart attack as she tried to save her farm with her husband.

The Oklahoma Forestry Service said the fires burned 400,000 acres across the state. Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 22 counties.

According to a statement from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a man died from smoke inhalation in Clark County. This fire has forned near 13,000 people to evacuate and has burned over 500,000 acres, making it the largest fire on record for Kansas.

Reports from the Texas A&M Forest Service said the Perryton Fire located in Ochiltree and Lipscomb counties in the Texas Panhandle is an estimated at 315,135 acres in size with 60 percent containment as of 7:47 a.m. CST Wednesday.

Texas A&M Forest Service has been on the scene with ground resources working in conjunction with local resources. Two homes have been reported as destroyed.

The Dumas Complex Fire near the city of Amarillo, Texas, is 100 percent contained, leaving an estimated 28,800 acres burning as of 7:46 a.m. CST Wednesday.

Ochiltree County Sheriff Terry Bouchard said that as many as 500 animals died in fires that consumed commercial hog barns.

Governor Greg Abbott activated state resources to help combat the fires. Air attack aircraft was assigned and two single-engine air tankers have made fire retardant drops on the fire on Monday evening. State fire marshals are investigating the cause of the wildfire and the four fatalities.

A grass fire in Logan County, Colorado, also wrecked havoc on Monday, burning an estimated 30,000 acres. Four structures were damaged, but no deaths or injuries were reported.

The combination of strong winds, dry air and dormant vegetation in the central United States will continue to raise the risk of brush fires through midweek.

firefighters 3.7.17

Firefighters gather drinking water and pizza from the back of a truck at a staging area near Hutchinson, Kan., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Wildfires helicopters 3.7.17

A National Guard helicopter picks up water from a farm pond near Hutchinson, Kansas, on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

wildfires Colorado 3.7.17

The skyline stands against a yellow sky as the sun rises early Monday, March 6, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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