Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D., has issued a disaster declaration for wildland fires currently burning in Rice County. County officials say they have exhausted all mutual aid resources and requested assistance from the Kansas National Guard with fire suppression efforts.
“The people of Rice County need our help,” said Colyer, “and, like good Kansas neighbors, we will give them whatever assistance we can to help them get these fires under control.”
Rice has three active wildfires. One fire has entered McPherson County from Rice; other counties are beginning to report fires. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management has activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to a partial (level 2) due to very high and extreme fire weather conditions across the state. At this time, the SEOC will be staffed with personnel from the KDEM, Kansas National Guard, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Kansas Forest Service.
Much of the state is in a high fire danger. The Kansas National Guard has deployed one UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to Rice County. One helicopter is also flying out of Salina. Three additional helicopters are on standby; one will be in in Salina and two in Topeka.