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Archive for Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fires scorch thousands of acres

Crews fight to contain south-central Kansas blazes

February 11, 2006

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— Fires in two neighboring south-central Kansas counties on Friday forced some evacuations and burned more than 5,000 acres of ranch and farmland.

Harvey and Reno counties have been under burn bans for several weeks because of dry conditions. There were no reports of injuries in either blaze.

The largest fire was in Harvey County, where firefighters were bringing the blaze under control Friday night after it burned between 4,500 and 5,000 acres of farmland since breaking out Thursday afternoon.

Lisa Wagner, a Harvey County dispatcher, said the fire was "contained but not controlled" about 7:45 p.m.

The fire had scorched more than 2,000 acres by the time it was first brought under control Thursday night. But it rekindled around noon Friday.

Though no homes had been damaged, law enforcement authorities asked people in the path of the blaze to evacuate. Heavy smoke prompted the cancellation of the boys' and girls' basketball games Friday night at Burrton High School. But the town wasn't threatened, another dispatcher said.

At one point, some of the firefighters battling the Harvey County blaze were sent to Reno County when a separate fire broke out around 3 p.m. on range land about six miles north of Hutchinson.


A wind-swept fire burned several thousand acres and threatened a number of homes Friday near Burrton, but no injuries were reported. Firefighters worked Friday to stop blazes in Harvey and Reno counties in south-central Kansas.

A wind-swept fire burned several thousand acres and threatened a number of homes Friday near Burrton, but no injuries were reported. Firefighters worked Friday to stop blazes in Harvey and Reno counties in south-central Kansas.

That fire consumed at least 400 acres and damaged a home before it was brought under control before 5 p.m., a Reno County dispatcher said.

Fire officials could not immediately determine the cause of either blaze. But Brad Ketcham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, noted that conditions were dry in the fall in south-central Kansas and the region has had only one-tenth of an inch of precipitation in almost two months.

On top of the dry conditions, sustained winds of 25 mph and gusts of up to 36 mph were reported in the area.

"It basically sets the area up for any kind of spark to lead to wildfires," Ketcham said.

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