As many as five firefighters were injured near Amarillo, Texas
Officials: fires caused by high temperatures, dry conditions
Fires broke out around the country Monday night, sending fire departments to fight the blazes across Midwestern states and in the swamplands of Florida. Authorities in some of the states credited high temperatures and low humidity with creating hazardous fire-prone conditions, with strong wind gusts fueling the flames. In others, officials had yet to determine the causes.
As many as five firefighters were injured in Potter County near Amarillo while fighting a blaze that was reportedly 12 to 15 miles across, according to Potter County Sheriff’s Department Captain John Coffee. Coffee told CNN all the firefighters were injured in separate incidents. “A couple were burned. One reported broken ribs,” he said.
Coffee said several fires were reported in the area throughout the day, and several times multiple fires merged into one. Coffee said high winds had been a factor, which had been in the 45 mph range earlier in the day, but later slowed to 23 mph.
Grass fires near Amarillo prompted the evacuations of residents in Wheeler, Mobeetie and Higgins, Texas.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott activated state resources to combat the wildfires in the Texas panhandle, according to a statement from his office.
Fires in Oklahoma consumed 10,000 acres. Officials at the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) attributed the hazardous conditions to temperatures that rose throughout the day into the 70s and 80s, low humidity and winds gusting up to 50 mph.
“The wind has been very high,” said Keli Cain, spokesperson for OEM. “Some of the areas where we’ve had fires, it’s been very difficult. It’s dangerous to firefighters.”
Cain told CNN that authorities called for evacuations in Buffalo, Woodward and Laverne Counties. Officials also evacuated Gate, a small town near the Kansas border, where another 40,000 acres have been reported to be in flames.
No injuries have been reported, according to Cain.
The Kansas fires forced 1,000 people to be evacuated from the towns of Englewood and Ashland, according to Millie Fudge, the coordinator for Clark County Emergency Preparedness. The wildfire burned thousands of acres in Clark County with “no way to stop it,” she said.
Flames that burned the southwestern corner of the county were making their way northward, fueled by wind gusts of at least 50 mph, Fudge said. She told CNN that at least 12 homes had been destroyed, but she was unaware of any injuries.
On Monday night, satellite and radar showed at least three major fires in Clark County, according to a National Weather Service Dodge City tweet.
A statement from the Kansas Department of Emergency Management cataloged fires in nearly two dozen counties across the state, and said that the state’s National Guard lent four Black Hawk helicopters to assist with fire suppression.
A grass fire that started just after 11 a.m. MT in Logan County, Colorado, had burned more than 30,000 acres by Monday night, according to a press release from Logan County Office Emergency Management. It said that more than 70 firefighters from 13 different fire departments had responded to fight the blazes, which had destroyed four structures. Earlier, winds reaching 47 mph were propelling the fire, but at press time it had been 90 percent contained, the office said.
Officials called 900 phones to recommend a voluntary evacuation, per Marilee Johnson, a spokeswoman for the county office. Officials have yet to determine the cause of the fire, Johnson said. She told CNN that no injuries had been reported.
Elsewhere in the country, a fire broke out in Naples, Florida, burning 3,500 acres. According to Wayne Martin, the deputy director of the Greater Naples Fire Department, the fire started up Sunday afternoon. Martin said the Lee Williams Road Fire, as local officials are calling it, is between swamp grounds and a quarry, and that no buildings were being threatened.
Several roads had been shut down because of smoke, and fires jumping from one side of the road to the next, but authorities had not called for any evacuations. They are still investigating the cause of the fire, which has reached 30% containment as of Monday night.
CNN’s Dave Alsup, Janet DiGiacomo, Chris Lett and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.