Flood warnings were in effect on the first day of spring in Texas and Oklahoma, while a wind-stoked wildfire in northeastern Colorado on Sunday forced up to a thousand residents from their homes.
The wildfire that began in Yuma County, Colo., destroyed two farmsteads and burned more than 37 square miles, according to officials. The Yuma County Sheriff’s office said an undetermined number of animals were killed, and ranchers were busy rounding up cattle left wandering after the fire.
The blaze was driven by high winds that were sustained at 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts up to 60 mph. One firefighter was critically injured and two others were treated and released for minor injuries while trying to escape from a stranded fire truck, according a Reuters report. Officials believe the fire was started by an electrical spark.
Evacuated residents of the small town of Eckley and surrounding areas were allowed to return home after the fire was brought under control on Monday.
More than a dozen area fire departments fought the fire, which started at about 1:15 p.m. Sunday south of Yuma and quickly spread toward Eckley, prompting the evacuations.
In south-central Texas, an area hit hard by last year’s drought, residents are now coping with heavy rains, flooding and at least one tornado that left widespread damage. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana yesterday. By midday, up to 5 inches of rain was recorded along portions of eastern Oklahoma.
A tornado was confirmed on the ground about 25 miles southwest of San Antonio late Monday. Two dozen homes and a handful of businesses were damaged in Medina County. Five people were injured, none of them seriously, according to the Medina County Sheriff’s office.
Eight inches of rain was expected in parts of southeastern Kansas, which has been unusually dry for nearly a year. The area has had less than three-fourths of the precipitation it typically gets since last April, state climatologist Mary Knapp said. Some low-lying areas near Fort Scott, Kan., were experiencing flash flooding Tuesday.