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The Wichita Eagle's coverage of the Kansas wildfires: stories, videos, photos

Flames and smoke envelope the grain elevator in Sitka, Kansas, in the early morning hours Tuesday. Wildfires swept by high winds threatened numerous towns across southern Kansas Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Flames and smoke envelope the grain elevator in Sitka, Kansas, in the early morning hours Tuesday. Wildfires swept by high winds threatened numerous towns across southern Kansas Monday night and Tuesday morning. The Wichita Eagle

Here is  a compilation of stories, photos and videos we’ve published of the wildfir and storms that swept through Kansas the week of March 5-11, 2017.

Fireworks may have caused one of Reno County fires, officials say

Fireworks could have been the cause of one of the fires that burned thousands of acres in Reno County in March.

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Volunteer firefighters: underfunded, undermanned – and first line of defense

When the biggest fire in the state was burning through Clark County in March, Kansas didn’t have any resources to send to help local firefighters.

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In wicked wildfire, Kansas family lost contact with one another

Brandon Grigsby relates the story that still affects him, of how a north wind sent a wildfire raging toward his Clark County ranch, of how he and his family lost contact with each other in the smoke as they tried to save cows and newborn calves.

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USDA authorizes emergency grazing after wildfires, directive from Trump

The department says the decision came in response to a directive from President Trump.

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Oklahoma: How Kansas can protect itself better from wildfires

Kansas’ firefighting budget is about $300,000, while Oklahoma’s is about $15 million. However, “there is a lot that Kansas can do with just a few million dollars that would make overall state response better,” says the director of the Oklahoma Forest Service.

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Girlfriend, trucker killed in wildfire were talking, then the phone went silent

On the charred landscape of Clark County where unprecedented wildfires raged, causing countless damage on March 6, Corey Holt is the only person who died. His girlfriend says she spoke with him as he drove his big rig into the smoke. Then their connection went silent.

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Kansans ask to graze cattle on restricted land after wildfires

The Conservation Reserve Program has restricted guidelines for grazing, something that has protected agriculturally sensitive land since 1985.

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Kansas OKs bill to share firefighting resources

For two years, proposals that would have allowed Kansas to share its firefighting resources with Oklahoma sat in the Legislature, as the two biggest fires to ever hit Kansas burned across state lines.

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Country star Toby Keith helps spread fire relief awareness

Wildfire relief efforts in southwest Kansas received a boost beginning Monday from country music star Toby Keith.

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More extreme weather could mean more, bigger wildfires, scientists say

Many scientists believe there will be increasingly more days with weather that puts the state at risk of wildfires.

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Firefighting resources: Will Kansas get all its trucks in a row?

For the second year in a row, Kansas was caught off guard by two fires of unprecedented size.

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Volunteers at burned Kansas ranches say helping is what ‘real Americans do’

Volunteers are coming from across America to work on Kansas ranches damaged by fire. “You couldn’t stop them if you wanted to. They have their minds made up they have to come help, and they are.”

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Kansas’ biggest fire ever was named after chief from town of 8 people

The largest fire in Kansas state history was named after a fire chief in a town with only eight residents but 20 volunteer firefighters.

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Why those battling historic fires had no help until it was too late

Firefighting resources in Kansas were stretched dangerously thin this spring as wildfires ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres in the state.

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Wichita shop delivers fresh doughnuts for volunteers hours away

Paradise Donuts, a Wichita doughnut shop, bakes and delivers fresh doughnuts daily for Clark County volunteers three hours away.

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USDA agency offers additional wildfire recovery help

The Kansas Natural Resources Conservation Service offers money, technical help to help farmers and ranchers affected by the recent wildfires.

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Wildfire-affected ranchers to get $6 million from feds

The money can be used to restore grazing lands, rebuild fences, rehabilitate landscapes in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

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Ash, smoke cause lingering health problems after fires

Ashland Health Center advises people to wear masks, get tetanus shots and watch for rattlesnakes.

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Sisters give each other strength to rebuild after wildfires

After wildfires destroyed their homes and ranch, three sisters say they can make it through as long as they have their family.

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Senate advances tax break for repairs of fire-damaged fences

Farmers whose fences were damaged in recent wildfires would get a tax break to help with repairs under a bill advanced by the Senate on Thursday.

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Last stand by firefighters helped prevent more damage in Hutchinson

The biggest backfire the Hutchinson firefighters had ever set was about a half-mile long; this one would need to be four miles long.

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With no grass left after wildfire, rancher begins selling cattle

Most of the ash has blown away from the scorched land on Greg Goodnight’s ranch, leaving behind red and yellow dirt, blackened brush and rocks.

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Recovery reference guide created for Kansas wildfire survivors

State agencies have joined with various organizations to develop a recovery reference guide for residents who suffered losses in the recent wildfires across Kansas.

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House passes tax break for ranchers repairing wildfire damage

Lawmakers on Tuesday advanced House Bill 2387 in a 122-0 vote. The legislation would exempt from sales taxes goods and services purchased to help repair or rebuild fencing.

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$50,000 Cargill donation to help western Kansas ranchers

Cargill’s Wichita-based North America protein business is donating $50,000 in new fencing materials to ranchers in western Kansas affected by recent wildfires.

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Calves orphaned in wildfire find temporary home in 4-H

Orphaned by the fires that swept through Clark and Comanche counties, the calves are stressed and hurt. One calf has badly damaged hooves. Some have hair melting in patches. Several have singed eyelashes.

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A single burned hymnal page – some see it as sign of faith

Charlie Gibson, 16, could see the piles of ashes from the books in her second-story bedroom of her burned home near Ashland.

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After a week without water, donated bottled water floods Englewood

After almost a week without water, Englewood’s well is back up and running, although the town of about 80 people is still under a boil ban.

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Dozen families show up at fire-assistance ‘one-stop shop’

Last week’s wildfires prompted the American Red Cross to temporarily set up a one-stop multi-agency resource in Hutchinson.

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Commentary: Mother Nature will be tested in healing burned prairies

It may be many years before deer, quail populations recover from fires in most of Clark County.

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Ashland volunteers fix 600 meals a day for firefighters who saved their town

Since Tuesday night, staff at Ashland High School has kept the kitchen going, cooking for ranchers, firefighters or anyone else who needs a meal. About 200 people have been served at each meal, three meals per day.

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Heroic firefighters saved her home, survivor says

Volunteer firefighters from Riley County battled flames surrounding the house north of Hutchinson.

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In burnt Kansas, donations started rolling in before flames died down

Thousands of tons of hay have been pouring into Ashland to help ranchers affected by wildfires. Some of the smallest gifts have meant the most.

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When fire is heading toward your house, what do you take with you?

Jerry and Joyce Ediger packed up the trailer with their horses. They managed to save two of their son’s trucks but weren’t able to return to rescue the final truck or any of the pictures that hung on the walls.

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Kansas Goodwill stores to donate portion of weekend profits to fire victims

Shoppers can round up the total bill to the nearest dollar, with that difference going to help those affected by wildfires around the state.

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Roberts visits areas, families affected by Kansas wildfires

Sen. Pat Roberts toured parts of western Kansas on Friday, which has been ravaged by wildfires this week.

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A second resource center for wildfire victims to open

State officials: Information and assistance will be offered in Ashland on Tuesday.

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Hutchinson-area fire ‘suspicious in nature,’ officials say

Officials in Reno County say a fire that affected more than 5,400 acres in Hutchinson’s Highland Golf Club area “is suspicious in nature.”

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Everywhere was burning, so he had to become his own firefighter

Wildfires aren’t that unusual, according to Bill Barby, 63, who has spent his whole life working on his 3,700-acre ranch that spreads across Clark and Comanche counties.

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Ashland native, business owner giving half his profits to fire victims

J.D. Young, who just opened Funky Monkeys Shave Ice 21 + in Wichita, said his aunt and uncle lost their home and 700 cattle in this week’s wildfire.

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Had fire come any closer, ‘we would have been fried’

The survivors remember the suddenness of what came upon them: wind, flying sand, the sky glowing suddenly red. Flames.

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His cattle are dead, but his family is alive, and he’s thankful

One Kansas man says the recent wildfires may be the biggest natural disaster to hit his ranching family in 132 years. The devastation to the land and livestock from the fires was “literally worse than I ever could have imagined,” said Greg Gardiner, whose family homesteaded Clark County more than 132 years ago. “They never stood a chance in a lot of these pastures.”

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Resource center for wildfire survivors to open Sunday in Hutchinson

Several agencies are coming together to offer assistance to victims of this week’s wildfires.

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Ten homes near Hutchinson destroyed in wildfire

Officials on Thursday said another home has been reported as destroyed by a wildfire in Reno County, though the fire is now mostly contained.

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Kansas sets wildfire record ‘it never hoped to see’

The largest wildfire in state history continued to burn on Wednesday, officials say.

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Kansas family fled wildfire and ran into something more dangerous

Under the threat of wildfires, they decided to head for Protection, the town east of Ashland. It looked clear that way. What they didn’t know was that they were heading toward more danger.

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Social media shows the destruction, death from wildfires

Warning: Graphic images of fire devastation. Wichita Eagle and Kansas.com reporter Oliver Morrison is covering the March wildfires in Kansas. Here's what he's seen.

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From this Kansas town, ‘it looked like the whole world was on fire’

Englewood, a town of about 80 people in Clark County, happened to receive the brunt of the worst fire to ever hit Kansas.

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What’s causing these wind gusts that read like speed limit signs?

There’s nothing unusual about these strong winds, weather officials say — it’s life on the east side of a major mountain range.

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Wildfire sets unwelcome record in Kansas

The fire in Clark and Comanche counties is the largest single fire in state history, Kansas officials say.

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Number of Reno County homes destroyed by fire increases

Reno County’s sheriff said Wednesday morning that an additional home has been reported as destroyed by a fire that has burned north of Hutchinson for several days.

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Update: Over 650,000 acres burned so far, state says

Wind-fed fires have burned more than 650,000 acres in Kansas, and active fires remain in five counties, according to the latest update Wednesday from the State Emergency Operation Center.

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Kansas trooper’s dashcam shows scary moments amid fires

Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman shared a dashcam video of wildfires Monday near Wilson in north-central Kansas. He was directing cars and semis on Interstate 70 to turn around. One semi became high-centered in the median, so he urged the driver to get out. They both made it out safety.

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Cattle lost in fires: 'It's horrible out there, the things I saw today'

Cattle losses number in the thousands with damage in the millions of dollars after southwest Kansas fires. Many of the dead were young calves.

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Wildfires drove them away. When they returned, everything was gone.

As wildfires approached, Mike Koehn and his wife, Myrna, evacuated their home a few miles west of Protection in Comanche County on Monday. They returned home Tuesday morning to find everything gone.

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Brownback on wildfires: 'We're not out of the woods'

A total of 400,000 acres have burned across Kansas so far, and the risk isn't abating just yet.

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How you can help: Money, hay donations, supplies for fire victims

The Kansas Livestock Association will use what was learned during last year’s Anderson Creek fire to help western Kansas ranchers hit by recent wildfires.

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Truck driver dies in fire-related incident in Clark County

The driver got out of his truck, was overcome by smoke and fire and was found dead near the rig, an official said.

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How to protect your property from wildfires

The cause of the ongoing outbreak of wildfires is unknown, but nationally, 95 percent of all wildfires start because of human activity.

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Hutchinson residents wonder if they have homes to return to after wildfires

Nearly 70 people stayed overnight at a temporary Red Cross shelter at the Kansas State Fairgrounds after the fire picked up Monday evening, forcing officials to call for the voluntary evacuation of between 10,000 and 12,000 people in the Hutchinson area.

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1 dead, 400,000 acres burned in unprecedented wildfires (March 7, 2017)

Nearly 70 people stayed overnight at a temporary Red Cross shelter at the Kansas State Fairgrounds after the fire picked up Monday evening, forcing officials to call for the voluntary evacuation of between 10,000 and 12,000 people in the Hutchinson area.

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Thousands evacuated as Reno County fires rage (March 7, 2017)

Wildfires in multiple counties continued to burn overnight into Tuesday, causing the voluntary evacuation of up to 12,000 people in the Hutchinson area, according to the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department.

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Photos, videos of Kansas fires, storms (March 7, 2017)

Photos and videos were shared on social media on Monday as wildfires swept through southwest and western Kansas and severe storms blew through the eastern half.

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'It's up to us': Volunteer firefighters give it their all - and then some

More than 90 percent of Kansas is protected by volunteer fire departments, of which 100 percent face financial and other challenges.

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'It's nonstoppable': Wildfires lead to evacuations, I-70 closing (March 6, 2017)

A wildfire that swept out of control in southwest Kansas on Monday afternoon caused the evacuation of two Clark County communities.

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State sends helicopters to Reno County to help with fires (March 6, 2017)

Authorities say two grass fires have burned more than 5,000 acres in central Kansas but no injuries and little damage has been reported. Hutchinson-area residents who were evacuated due to a grass fire were allowed to return to their homes Sunday evening.

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PHOTOS: Sen. Pat Roberts tours wildfire areas (March 10, 2017)  

PHOTOS: 'Worse than I ever imagined'

PHOTOS: Daylight shows devastation of Kansas wildfires (March 8, 2017)

PHOTOS: Wildfires sweep across Kansas (March 6-7, 2017)

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