- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) - The Latest on wildfires burning across parts of Kansas and Oklahoma (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

The Kansas Forest Service says a wildfire that crossed into the state from Oklahoma earlier this week is considered the largest in Kansas history and one of the largest ever in the U.S.

The wildfire has burned at least 620 square miles in Oklahoma and Kansas.

The service said officials are looking at the damage in Barber County, Kansas, to determine if it meets the threshold for a FEMA disaster declaration, which would provide public assistance for damaged public infrastructure.

In Oklahoma, officials said in a release Friday there’s been very little growth in the wildfire near the town of Alva, thanks in part to “exceptional firefighting” combined with lighter winds and lower temperatures.

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10:15 a.m.

A Kansas livestock official says the wildfire that scorched hundreds of square miles in Oklahoma and southern Kansas has displaced cattle and destroyed miles of fencing.

Todd Domer, spokesman for the Kansas Livestock Association, said Friday the most immediate problem for Kansas ranchers affected by the fire in Barber and Comanche counties is locating cattle that escaped when fences burned. He says ranchers are also working to figure out how many cattle may have died.

The KLA is raising funds to help replace the fencing, which he estimates covered tens of thousands of miles. He says hay donations have been so swift and numerous there’s no longer a need.

Domer also says there would also have been a lot of newborn calves this time of year that may have either been separated from their mothers or been killed in the fire.

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9:15 a.m.

Firefighters are gaining control of wildfires involving nearly 86 square miles in the Texas Panhandle.

The Texas A&M; Forest Service reports the largest blaze, burning about 75 square miles of grassland in Carson, Hutchinson, Roberts and Gray counties, is 50 percent contained. Two abandoned homes and two other undisclosed structures have been lost.

A second grassfire, in Wheeler County, burned an estimated 10 square miles and is 75 percent contained. No structural losses are reported but fire and smoke caused Interstate 40 near Shamrock to be shut for several hours Thursday.

The National Weather Service has a fire weather watch in effect from 1 p.m. through Friday evening for a dozen counties in the southern and western Texas Panhandle, where winds are forecast to gust up to 40 mph while humidity is between only 10 and 15 percent.

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7:45 a.m.

Hay donations are being sought for ranchers whose land burned in a massive wildfire in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Kansas Livestock Association says it’s accepting cash donations and that farmers’ cooperatives in two Kansas communities are collecting hay donations.

Hundreds of firefighters and have been battling the blaze that started Tuesday in Oklahoma and spread into Kansas. As of Thursday, it had consumed 620 square miles of mostly farmland and ranchland in the two states.

Kansas Incident Management Team spokeswoman Kathleen Fabrizius (FUH’-brish-us) says officials are planning to fly over the area Friday to evaluate the damage.

Smoke from the blaze has been detected hundreds of miles away in St. Louis. At least one home has burned, but no serious injuries have been reported.

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7:30 a.m.

Meteorologists say the weather conditions could make it hard for crews to make headway against a wildfire that has scorched sparsely-populated areas of Oklahoma and Kansas.

The National Weather Service says wind gusts of up to 30 mph are expected to last from Friday morning through the afternoon.

Meteorologist Bill Turner says the big challenge will be keeping the fire from spreading again once the south wind picks up. He says the wind could blow sparks onto unburnt land.

The blaze has consumed at least 620 square miles since starting Tuesday in Oklahoma and spreading into Kansas. Kansas Incident Management Team spokeswoman Kathleen Fabrizius (FUH’-brish-us) says officials plan to fly over the area Friday to evaluate the damage.

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