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18-022 SEOC returns to normal operations following wildfire response

March 8, 2018 | By slarson

Since March 4, emergency responders in multiple Kansas counties battled more than 50 wildfires that burned more than 27,000 acres. Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D., issued a State of Disaster Emergency proclamation for Barber, Clark, Ellis, Greenwood, Harper, Kingman, Logan, Reno, Smith, Stevens and Wabaunsee Counties. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka on Sunday to coordinate state response operations. Other state agencies represented in the EOC included Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Highway Patrol, Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Kansas Forest Service. The SEOC returned to normal operation level Wednesday evening. When there are multiple emergencies going on across the state, it requires a well-coordinated effort to deal with them all, said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. It is a testament to the cooperative spirit of all our emergency support function partners that we were able to successfully give assistance where it was needed to contain and extinguish these fires as quickly as possible. No fire-related injuries were reported during the incident period, but two structures were damaged. The unpreceded fire activity over the past few years have given local and state-level agencies an opportunity to improve response operations, said Eric Ward, Kansas Forest Service. The fact that none of the recent fires were able to grow into a major disaster is proof of their abilities. State response included the deployment of a regional coordinator to Greenwood County and one to Seward County, and the deployment of nine Kansas Army National Guard and 50 soldiers to assist ground crews with aerial water drops in Ellis, Greenwood and Wabaunsee Counties. Other support included sending two Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks and fuel trucks to Ellis County.