Highlands neighborhood still bears scars from last year's fire

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RENO COUNTY, Kan. A sandy mound in the Highlands north of Hutchinson was once home to Jeff Jackson.

Last year, Jackson watched from the neighborhood country club as the wildfire approached his home. Exactly one year ago Monday, fires sparked a bigger problem for families who lived in the Highlands area.

"As it came down through here, with a 40-foot-tall wall of flame, with all this grass, trees, whatever, it got our house pretty quick," he says.

One year later, Jackson's neighborhood still bears the scars of that fire. And more windy, dry conditions bring a problem with the risk for more fire.

"If it's left the way it is, in my opinion, it's just a matter of time before it's gonna burn again," Jackson says of the Highlands neighborhood.

Jackson and neighbors have worked to clean up what they could over the past year, but there are still areas thick with dead trees and dry grass, the perfect fuel for fires.

"I was asked by a guy in Washington, D.C. about it last year, 'what can the government do?'" Jackson says. "Bring a chainsaw and cut the stuff down."

For now, he says he and his neighbors are urging caution to make sure another fire like last year does not hit the area.

Jackson thinks it will likely take years to clean up the dead trees throughout the Highlands. But even with the added fire risk, he has no plans to leave.