March more Lion than Lamb
Although drought, severe storms and flooding rainfall all made their presence known during the month, March’s weather story was dominated by fire. Several months of elevated fire danger came to a head March 6 with the ignition of four large wildfires across far northwestern Oklahoma and southern Kansas. The group of fires was labeled the “Northwest Oklahoma Complex.” The wildfires, pressed by winds gusting to more than 60 mph, scorched a total of 779,292 acres. Approximately 472,000 acres of that total were in Kansas. The cost of the fires, both to property and lives, was tremendous. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service estimates the economic impact of the fires at more than $16 million, including the loss of livestock, habitat and infrastructure. Losses to cattle operations alone were $14.6 million. The Extension totals did not include estimates for equipment or other losses. At least eight homes were destroyed by the fires in Oklahoma. Two Oklahomans died in the wildfires. A 39-year-old semitrailer truck driver from Enid died from smoke inhalation in the southern Kansas portion of the wildfires, and a 63-year-old woman suffered a fatal heart attack while fighting the fire on her farm near Buffalo.
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