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18-033 State Emergency Operations Center remains staffed through the weekend

March 17, 2018 | By slarson

Since the beginning of the current wildland fire incident that began March 14, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management has tracked over 100 wildland fires in the state. The fires have burned an estimated 16,800 acres, most of it in the South Central region. Currently there is one fire that is active/uncontrolled and five controlled fires. Two fires are in mop-up and 52 fires have been extinguished. No deaths have been reported due to the fires, but one civilian was treated for smoke inhalation and two firefighters have been treated for minor burns. KDEM activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to a partial level to coordinate state response efforts. It will remain staffed through the weekend due to the moderate to extreme fire danger across most of the state. Kansas Army National Guard Black Hawks with Bambi buckets will remain on standby through the weekend to assist local jurisdictions with aerial fire suppression for wildland fires, as needed. Additional aerial support will be provided by Nebraska National Guard through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Two Black Hawk helicopters from Nebraska will arrive Saturday morning. Local disaster declaration have been made by Barber, Butler, Kiowa, Labette, McPherson, Montgomery, Reno, and Rice Counties. Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D., issued a state of disaster emergency for Rice County that has since been amended to include all of the counties named above. Because of the dry weather conditions and high wind conditions across the state, Kansans are reminded to use extreme caution to avoid making sparks that could set off a fire. Make sure all smoking materials are completely extinguished. Do not drive on or stop your car on dry or tall grass because your exhaust can spark a fire. 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.