Kansas Governor Issues Wildfire Disaster Declaration

March 6, 2018

Forecasters are warning of a high risk of wildfires after one blaze burned 10,000 hay bales in the southwest part of the state.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed an emergency disaster declaration Sunday when the large bales burned a half mile north of the Stevens County town of Moscow amid wind gusts of up to 50 mph.

This year’s fire season follows two years of record setting wildfires. Kansas Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Katie Horner says the “lesson learned” from previous years is to mobilize people quickly to prevent fires from getting out of control. Before the bale fire was contained, crews were on standby with planes equipped with large buckets capable of dumping water.

Extreme dry conditions are continuing. Another wildfire broke out in southwestern Kansas, burning 1,600 acres so far and forcing residents in the area to evacuate.

Clark County Emergency Manager Millie Fudge says firefighters stopped the fire Monday about three miles south of Ashland, but it has broken off toward the east and the fire was not yet contained as of late Monday..

Local, state and Oklahoma firefighters are responding to the blaze on the ground and with an air tanker.

Fudge says the blaze began when a truck caught fire on Kansas 160 outside Ashland, and quickly spread with the help of 20-30 mph winds. By early afternoon the fire was 3 miles long.

Fudge doesn’t know if the fire destroyed any homes. She says the sparsely populated area outside of Ashland, which is most threatened, has been evacuated.

Fire officials have classified the grassland fire danger in central, south-central and southeast Kansas as extreme to catastrophic. The only areas where red flag fire warnings haven’t been issued are in northeast and far north-central.

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