Grass fire burns thousands of acres in Greenwood County

Published: Mar. 5, 2020 at 2:49 PM CST
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Much of Kansas is under a Red Flag Warning as dry ground and strong winds combine to create the perfect conditions for extreme fire dangers.

Gov. Laura Kelly issued an emergency disaster declaration on Thursday due to the conditions.

Smoke plumes from grass fires across Kansas started popping up on radar Thursday afternoon.

Greenwood County Emergency Manager Levi Vinson says the National Weather Service alerted his county around 1 p.m. about a fire burning near the town of Hamilton.

"(The) Hot Spot Notification System helps us tremendously in Greenwood County. We're big, we're sparsely populated. There's areas of the county where fires can burn for 10, 15 minutes before anyone notices," said Greenwood County Emergency Manager Levi Vinson.

He said there were some tense moments trying to contain the fire especially when it threatened properties.

Pam Collinge's home was in the fire's path.

"Got closer to the house, I could tell it was between my son's house and our house, so I was concerned about, first of all, the grandchildren," she said.

All 12 of Greenwood County's fire divisions responded along with mutual aid from Coffey, Wilson and Woodson counties.

Crews also contained the fire through backburning or setting smaller fires to burn of fuel for the grass fire.

"In three weeks, it will be green and beautiful, and we won't be able to tell the fire has been through here," said Collinge.

Thursday night into Friday morning, crews will remain on scene, monitoring these hot spots that are still burning across Greenwood County. They say one of their primary concerns is a change in the weather that could bring back all of this again Friday.

Vinson said the fire burned about 5,000 acres of land.

A grass fire in northwest Kansas burned about one square mile of CPR land near the Rooks/Graham county line.