Kansas Army National Guard helicopters deploy for potential wildland fire assistance

Due to a high threat index for wildland fires over the next several days, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management has asked the Kansas Army National Guard to deploy six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to several locations within the state to assist local fire departments, as needed.

The helicopters are equipped with collapsible 660-gallon buckets used to draw water from local sources to drop on areas that are difficult for ground crews to reach. These aircraft are being prepositioned in key locations to expedite assistance, should they be needed. The helicopter and crews will take off no later than 4 p.m. and are currently tasked to remain operational through Thursday, April 11.

Gov. Laura Kelly has issued a State of Disaster Emergency declaration to allow state resources to respond more quickly to local requests for assistance.

“Our past experiences have taught us that wildland fires can crop up suddenly and spread rapidly,” said Kelly. “This declaration allows us to position our state emergency response assets so they can act quickly when a request for assistance is made.”

KDEM will activate the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to monitor weather conditions and respond to requests for assistance from local authorities.