HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Emergency crews battling deadly wildfires in largely rural areas of four states hope that forecasts of less windy conditions will help them contain blazes that have burned hundreds of square miles of land.
Bill Bunting, forecast operations chief for the Oklahoma-based Storm Prediction Center, said the powerful gusts that fanned the wildfires in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas should ease to about 10 to 20 mp.p.h. on Wednesday.
‘‘These conditions will make it somewhat easier for firefighting efforts, but far from perfect. The fires still will be moving,’’ Bunting said.
“The ideal situation is that it would turn cold and rain, and unfortunately that’s not going to happen’’ he said.
Nearly 6 million people live in areas at risk of critical wildfire conditions, including Tulsa, Okla., Oklahoma City and Kansas City, the Storm Prediction Center said. Forecasters said conditions were also ripe for fires in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.
Kansas wildfires have burned about 1,025 square miles of land and killed a tractor-trailer driver who succumbed to smoke after getting out of his jackknifed rig.
In the Texas Panhandle, three fires burned nearly 750 square miles of land and killed at least four people.