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South Kansas wildfires force evacuation of Medicine Lodge

(KWCH/Devon Fasbender)
(KWCH/Devon Fasbender)(WIBW)
Published: Mar. 23, 2016 at 3:37 PM CDT
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The mayor of Medicine Lodge called for voluntary evacuations as massive wildfires bear down on the small town in Barber Co., the Adjutant General's Office said.

The blaze already consumed two houses on the northern edge of the city, and threaten to envelop the remaining 800-1,000 homes and businesses still standing.

Another blaze kicked up in Reno County and quickly spread into Harvey County, threatening the town of Burrton.

This fire was much smaller in scale , only about 15 square miles were scorched and at least one house was destroyed and one was damaged in Reno County.

A number of outbuildings were also destroyed but no injuries have been reported.

On Wednesday, the Kansas Highway Patrol shut down two highways leading out of town, US-160 and US-281. The former links the city of 2,000 with Coldwater, while the latter runs toward the Oklahoma border. Troopers are limiting the number of non-response vehicles allowed into the area.

Earlier in the day, the fire, which has burned tens of thousands of acres in south central Kansas, hopped Highway 160 and crossed into Butler Co., the Comanche Co. Emergency Manager said. He said it could jump Highway 54 next.

Comanche Co. EMS says a fire that started in Woods Co., Okla., has connected to the fire in Kansas. Crews have been fighting that blaze since noon Tuesday. So far, it has burned 41,000 acres of land in Comanche and Wood Counties.

Smoke plumes billowing from the fire shaded much of the state early Wednesday evening. High winds, with sustained speeds over 40 mph and gusting at nearly 60 mph, spread over northeast Kansas, raising fears of fires throughout the area and prompting Topeka's Fire Dept. to issue a statement that there were no current grass fires in Shawnee Co.