Dramatic dashcam video shows a Kansas trooper rescuing a stranded tractor-trailer driver from a wildfire and driving through thick smoke as flames lick the roadside.
Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman has posted video on Facebook of the fire near the small central Kansas town of Wilson. After the fire jumped Interstate 70 east of him on Monday, he began turning people around before they drove into it. He turned around about 20 cars and two tractor-trailers before the fire also crossed the interstate to the west.
He can be heard on the video telling a truck driver who became stuck to “get in.”
Hileman called the situation “one of the most steering-wheel-gripping moments” he’s had in his 20 years with the patrol.
Meanwhile, the massive grass fire raging in two Kansas counties has set a state record for the biggest involving a single blaze.
Kansas Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Katie Horner says an estimated 861 square miles of land have been blackened in Comanche and Clark counties as of Wednesday. The 625 square miles charred in Comanche County is about 85 percent of that county’s land.
Horner says the previous record came last year, with the Anderson Creek fire consuming 488 square miles of land in Barber and Comanche counties.
Horner says that since Saturday, large grassfires have been reported in 23 Kansas counties, consuming more than 1,000 square miles.