Texas Panhandle Wildfires Much Bigger Than First Thought

The fires in Kansas were the largest recorded, at about 631,000 total acres (255,350 hectares), state officials said.

According to Catherine Horner, spokeswoman with the state Division of Emergency Management, the fires in Clark County have consumed more than 350,000 acres - or almost 60% of the county.

The largest fire burned an estimated 390 square miles in Beaver County before moving north into Kansas. Wallace died from smoke inhalation while the fire severely burned Crockett and Everett, the judge said.

Authorities estimate more than 60,000 acres have been burned in a large range fire in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The Clark County fire was only listed as 50 percent contained as of Thursday morning. More than 900 residents of two towns in the county were evacuated Monday afternoon as the fires that began in Oklahoma got closer.

The largest conflagration in Texas, dubbed the Perryton fire, spread rapidly on Tuesday to blacken almost 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) in the panhandle region and was 50 percent contained, authorities said. A smaller fire to the west near Amarillo is fully contained.

At least a dozen wildfires burning in Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Florida have charred more than 1,700 square miles and remain largely uncontained. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, says the Denver Post.

Most of the fires seen are prescribed burns. The Kansas Highway Patrol said Corey Holt, of Oklahoma City, died Monday when his tractor-trailer jackknifed as he tried to back up because of poor visibility on southern Kansas highway, and he succumbed to smoke after getting out of his vehicle.

A third wildfire in Gray County and measuring almost 145 square miles is 25% contained.

Officials say one of three wildfires in the Texas Panhandle is now 100 percent contained. Four firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.

The most populated area affected is Reno County, where 10,000 to 12,000 people voluntarily evacuated their homes Monday.

With hard terrain blocking ground equipment, the National Guard dispatched six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to drop tens of thousands of gallons of water over the fires in Kansas, said Jay Gradinger, the Kansas National Guard's military assistant to civil authorities.

Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The same fire destroyed 151,000 acres in Comanche County.

News reported a sixth fire-related fatality, a woman in Harper County, Oklahoma, who suffered a heart attack while trying to move cattle from harm's way.