Kansas governor issues state of disaster emergency for wildfires

Crews respond to a large fire in Reno County on Monday, March 29, 2021.
Crews respond to a large fire in Reno County on Monday, March 29, 2021.(KWCH 12)
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly on Sunday (March 28) issued a State of Disaster declaration due to the high risk of wild fires and red flag warnings for most Kansas counties. The dry and windy forecast that led to several fires quickly spreading Monday, is expected to continue through the week.

“The weather conditions quickly dry out dead grass and other fuels, making them receptive to new fire starts or rekindles from controlled burns. The combination of dry fuels and wind-driven fires are more challenging and difficult to control,” the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office explained in a news release announcing the governor’s disaster declaration.

The adjutant general explained that “the declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria.”

“Fire season is in full-force and we must all do our part to protect our fellow Kansans,” Kelly said. “Exercise caution and not do any burning at this time. Remember it only takes a spark to start a fire that can quickly get out of control with the high winds.”

As of Monday evening, Kansas Forest Services (KFS) personal and contracted Air Tanker 95 are assisting with wildfires in Reno County.

“Interagency coordination of resources at a state level increases firefighter and public safety when large wildfires occur - which is our top priority,” said Mark Neely, State Fire Management Officer with KFS.

The adjutant general warned that resources would be limited with several days of fire weather concerns in Kansas.

“We ask all Kansans to do your part in preventing and immediately reporting wildfires. We are faced with back-to-back days of elevated fire weather this week and resources are likely to be stretched thin with multiple fires burning across the state today,” said Neely.

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