Governor issues emergency declaration for wildland fire potential

March 5, 2020 | By slarson

Gov. Laura Kelly has issued a state of disaster emergency declaration this morning due to the potential risk of wildland fires through March 7.

In recent years, we have seen the devastation wildland fires can cause across the state," Governor Kelly said. "They destroy crops and grazing land, and may threaten homes and lives. This declaration will allow the state to use whatever resources we have available to mitigate the risks and respond to fires, should they occur, in support of local emergency responders.

The majority of the state is either in an Enhanced Fire Danger outlook, Significant Fire Danger outlook, or Critical Fire Danger outlook/forecast. Conditions across the state are dry with low relative humidity, strong southerly winds, and an abundance of dry grass and other flammable vegetation.

The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka will be activated to a partial (level 2) today through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily for critical fire weather across central and eastern Kansas.

The Kansas National Guard will be placed on alert, if needed, for aerial fire suppression support with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

 When wildland fires have occurred in the past, we have seen tremendous cooperation from all state agencies to prevent or respond to them, said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. Local responders work heroically to respond when wildland fires threaten their communities and the state stands ready to back them up, if needed.

It only takes one spark to touch off a wildland fire, so Kansans are urged to use care when burning outside, including fires in outdoor grills, and to make sure all smoking materials are completely extinguished before discarding them. Contact your local county emergency manager to see if there is a burn ban in your area.