The first thing Richele Calvert told her kids as the grass fire approached was “pack up” to evacuate.
Moments later: “Get in the car NOW!”
Wayne and Richele Calvert lost their home north of Hutchinson minutes later. But they raced away, and know now it could have been worse. They are safe, and so are their children Wesley, 17, and Katrina, 13.
The Reno County Sheriff’s Office was to meet with them at midday on Thursday to explain what they know about what happened. And then the Sheriff’s Office planned to take the families who lost their houses on a tour of the neighborhood that was hardest hit, Richele said.
The family is now staying with another daughter in Hutchinson, she said.
Thursday morning Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson announced that another home had been destroyed by a wildfire north of Hutchinson, bringing the number to 10.
Families have not been allowed back into the evacuation zone, though officials hoped to let more people back to their properties as the day goes on.
The fire was 90 percent contained as of 10 a.m. Thursday morning.
An animal shelter at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson has been shut down, Henderson said. Red Cross officials remain on standby at a shelter that has been used by some evacuees since fires broke out several days ago in Reno and Rice counties.
No helicopter air drops are scheduled for the area today, Henderson said, as the Kansas National Guard choppers had moved west to help battle fires in that part of the state. The fire north of Hutchinson has burned about 6,300 acres in Reno and Rice counties since late last week.
Hutchinson Fire Chief Doug Hanen said crews will continue to work on hot spots in the area throughout the day on Thursday.
According to the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, nearly 632,000 acres have burned during the recent fires, including 502,000 acres in Comanche and Clark counties. The Clark County fire was only listed as 50 percent contained as of Thursday morning.