I am now even farther away from my hometown of Ashland, Kansas, but my thoughts are still there with friends who have been battling wildfires.
From Singapore I have been checking the latest news and Facebook updates and have been besieged by memories of growing up in a small town.
The town was evacuated on Monday, but now residents have returned after the town itself was spared. Ashland is now an island in the middle of a huge burnt out area. Fortunately, this allows it to be a center of hope as it provides services to those who have been affected by the fires.
This more detailed map shows the fire as it was on Tuesday. You can see that it covers more than half the area of Clark County. Although Ashland is right in the middle of the fire area it did not burn. I believe this to be a combination of the geography around the town itself and the direction the fire was moving. If the fire had been moving in a different direction the town would have been in grave danger.
Here is an outline of the fires that are raging along the Oklahoma/Kansas line. The fire that has spread into Kansas is known as the Starbuck Fire. At this point on Tuesday evening the fire outline looks like a big dragon.
Since that time the fire has spread into Comanche County. Between Clark and Comanche counties more than 500,000 acres have been burnt, and the fires have not yet been fully contained.
This screen clip from KWCH12 shows close family friends who lost their home in Englewood, Kansas. The small town of Englewood, which has less than 100 residents, was hit very hard with 12 homes being destroyed.
I had been wondering about the Ediger family and was saddened when I saw this news report. Their son, who was one of my best friends in school, also lost his house.
As I see more and more reports the memories continue to flood back as I remember wonderful times growing up in rural Kansas.
It is also good to see glimmers of hope as I read stories of people who are helping others and I also see that life continues even in the face of tragedy.
One bright spot is that the Ashland boys basketball team is still preparing for their trip to the State tournament in Dodge City and will play Thursday night at 8:15.
Continue to pray for the residents of Clark County as they start to recover from the devastating fires there.