Departments across KS prepare for potentially intense wildfire season

DODGE CITY, Kan. High winds in Kansas Thursday come with a high fire danger. Thursday, some areas in western Kansas could see wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour.

With wind speeds that high, Ford County Fire Chief Rob Boyd says fires could be difficult to control.

"So the fuel is high. We had a good growing season, fire loads high. We're going to be on edge tomorrow," Boyd said Wednesday.

Boyd says people don't often think about high wildfire danger in Kansas during winter months.

"But historically, over the last three to five years, most of our fires occur between January and April," he says.

The Ford County Fire Department's 3,000-gallon tanker is a new addition to help it prepare to stay ahead of grass fires as best it can.

Boyd says the tanker will be used to shuttle water back and forth to trucks involved in the fire fight.

The chief reminds people to be extra cautious Thursday.

"Just take some extra time and precautions when you're out there tomorrow," he says. "Most of all, be safe when driving the high-profile vehicles that are going to be subject to this wind."

Beyond Thursday, departments across Kansas are preparing for what could be an intense wildfire season.

Year after year, thousands of acres are scorched in Kansas. We're still a couple months away from the peak wildfire season,but emergency responders are already prepared.

"It's the time of year we need to start thinking about fire dangers and protection from wildfires and things like that," Interim Butler County Emergency Management Director Keri Kortahls says.

Kortahls attended the 2019 Kansas Wildfire Outlook Seminar in Wichita. She says early predictions show an intense fire season ahead.

The seminar is the result of consecutive years for damaging wildfires in Kansas like the Anderson Creek Wildfire in 2016 that burned more than 400,000 acres. Large fires in Clark and Reno counties followed in 2017.

In order to prevent wildfires, Kortahls reminds everyone to control ignition sources, meaning anything that can spark a flame, remove brush from around your home, and if you spot a fire, notify emergency responders right away.

"Because the faster we get resources rolling, the faster we get it contained," Kortahls says.