Fueled by dry brush and fanned by high winds, a large grassland fire erupted Tuesday night and continued to burn near Medicine Lodge, Kansas, on Thursday.
The fire has burned close to 70,400 acres in Oklahoma and Kansas as of early Thursday, March 24, 2016, according to the Associated Press.
The fire forced officials to close a portion of routes 160 and 281 in the vicinity.
The wildfire prompted Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to declare a State of Disaster Emergency, in order to channel state assistance to the local communities.
The fire has been contained in Woods County, Oklahoma, and Comanche County, Kansas. Crews were gaining the upper hand in neighboring Barber County, Kansas, as of midday Thursday.
Hundreds of firefighters with dozens of vehicles and an aircraft were battling the blaze, fire management officials stated.
Residents in Barber and Comanche counties were being allowed to return to their homes, according to the Kansas Adjutant General Department.
The fire has burned one home and a train trestle bridge, thus far and was located a few miles west of Medicine Lodge.
The smell of smoke and falling ash was observed in Wichita, Kansas, more than 60 miles away.
Diminishing wind is in store for the the central and southern Plains through Friday morning, following gusts ranging between 50 and 70 mph at midweek.
As a new storm drops across the Rockies and High Plains early this weekend, winds will pick up across the region. However, winds will be much less intense, when compared to the middle of the week.
Winds from the south will average 12-25 mph with a few gusts to 30 mph.
The new storm will bring the chance of showers to some areas missed by rain by the storm from the middle of the week.
The next chance of high winds will develop next week. Many of the showers and thunderstorms associated with the storm next week may erupt east of central and western portions of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Winds will pick up from the south and southwest on Monday night and Tuesday, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
"The worst day in terms of high winds will be on Wednesday, next week, when gusts between 40 and 60 mph are possible," Pastelok said.
Brush fires are common across the Plains and in many other parts of the nation early in spring. Until the vegetation greens up and starts to grow, the threat will continue.
Following the winter season, dead or dormant vegetation, such as grass and leaves, is a perfect fuel for a blaze.
As the temperature climbs and the air becomes very dry, a blaze can start easily from natural and man-made causes.
Strong winds can not only push a fire along at a rapid pace but also ignite new blazes as burning embers from the existing fires travel downwind.
People are urged to use caution when operating power equipment. Never throw burning cigarettes on the ground. Avoid parking where the hot exhaust system from the vehicle can come in contact with dry brush.