Devastating wildfires have set a record that the Kansas Division of Emergency Management says "it never hoped to see and never hopes to surpass." More than 500,000 acres in two counties in the southwest of the state have burned this week in what is believed to be the biggest fire in the state's recorded history, the Kansas City Star reports. Some ranchers have lost their homes along with almost all their cattle, with the number of livestock deaths believed to be in the thousands, CNN reports. Veterinarians say calving season had just gotten underway, making this the worst possible time for fire to sweep through grasslands.
"It's horrible out there, the things I saw today," hunter Larry Konrade told the Wichita Eagle after a day spent helping a rancher put down livestock badly burned by the fire. "The fire was so big, and so much of Clark County burned, I don't see how anything lived through it." The fires also swept through parts of Oklahoma and Texas. They caused at least six deaths, including three people killed while trying to evacuate cattle, and forced thousands from their homes, NBC reports. Authorities blame "extreme fire conditions" including temperatures reaching into the 80s, strong winds, and low humidity.