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18-031 State monitors weather as wildland fires continue to crop up

Fire danger remains high today with red flag warnings for much of Kansas due to high winds and dry weather conditions.

“Strong winds continue to make for a red flag warning today across much of the state generally south of I-70,” said Kris Craven, meteorologist with the Topeka National Weather Service. “There will be a short break from the high winds tonight. Unfortunately, the winds will pick up again tomorrow from the south at 10-20 mph and gusty across southwest Kansas.”

Currently, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management is monitoring five wildland fires across the state. Kansas Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters remain on standby to assist in fire suppression efforts as coordinated through KDEM.

Since the start of the incident period on Monday, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management has tracked approximately 100 wildland fires that have burned over 13,000 acres. Two structures were reported destroyed by fire in Kiowa County and a bridge was damaged in Marshall County.

The State Emergency Operation Center in Topeka remains activated at a partial level through the weekend. The SEOC is staffed by KDEM personnel and representatives from other state agencies.

Gov. Jeff Colyer M.D. issued a disaster declaration for fires in Rice County on March 14. Kiowa, Labette, McPherson, Montgomery and Rice Counties have issued state of local disaster declarations. All counties are included in the state declaration and more may be added as needed.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management officials are reminding Kansans to avoid any activity that could create a spark and start a new fire. Do not drive on or stop your car on dry or tall grass because your exhaust can spark a fire; do not throw cigarettes on the ground.

Stay away from all affected areas and do not drive through heavy smoke. Sightseeing puts you in danger and hampers the work of firefighting crews.