A temporary break in the weather has given emergency responders across the state a brief respite from the recent wave of wildland fires that burned more than 17,310 acres in multiple counties March 14-18.
Gov. Jeff Colyer M.D. issued a Declaration of Disaster Emergency at 1:40 p.m. on March 14. Initially, the declaration was for Rice County, but was amended as other fires broke out to include Barber, Butler, Kiowa, Labette, McPherson, Montgomery, Reno and Seward Counties.
Damage reported to the State Emergency Operations Center include; one bridge destroyed in Marshall County and four our non-residential structures destroyed – two in Kiowa County and two in Barber County.
The State Emergency Operations Center monitored 62 fires that were reported over the course of four days. State agencies coordinating from the SEOC included the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas National Guard, Kansas Forest Service, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Transportation, Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the Adjutant General’s Office Public Affairs Department. The Kansas Water Office and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism provided additional assistance.
The Kansas National Guard deployed several UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters during the incident period. The Nebraska National Guard provided an additional two Black Hawks.
“This is the type of mission our Kansas Guardsmen train for – protecting the lives and property of their neighbors and fellow Kansans” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli,, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, “The response to these fires was truly a cooperative effort by local government, emergency managers, firefighters, other first responders, and a number of other agencies.”
Earlier this month, from March 4-7, 57 wildland fires burned more than 27,000 acres in Barber, Ellis, Clark, Greenwood, Harper, Kingman, Logan, Reno, Smith, Stevens, and Wabaunsee County.
Wildland fire danger is not over for the season. Dry, windy conditions are expected later this week which will raise the fire danger once again.
Remember, it only takes a spark! Do your part. Don’t let a fire start.