Tuesday, March 6, 2018

It only takes a spark: Fire risk is high, use extreme caution


That's the message that Kansas emergency management, Department of Agriculture and Kansas Department of Transportation officials want Kansans to understand: It only takes one spark to set off a fire that that could rage across thousands of acres.

"Current dry weather conditions and high winds have created an extremely high risk for fire," said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. "More than once in recent years, we have seen the devastation that can result from wildfires. Homes have been destroyed, livestock killed, thousands of acres of farmland completely burned, resulting in millions of dollars in economic loss.
"It is vital that Kansans avoid any activity that could possibly start a fire," said Tafanalli, "such as driving vehicles across dry grass, or using work equipment on dry fields. As always, be careful that you extinguish any smoking materials completely. Basically, just be cautious when doing anything that might create the spark that starts a catastrophic fire."

The Dept. of Agriculture also advises to take extra precautions when welding or brush hogging. Always have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle as you are out working.

"KDOT would like to remind the traveling public this year to be mindful of any activity that could cause a spark, including pulling over on the side of a road that has tall grass," said State Transportation Engineer Catherine Patrick. "If you find yourself driving through an area where a fire has been reported and visibility is reduced, be cautious when driving through heavy smoke and do not pull over near a fire."

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management continues to monitor weather conditions that have sparked several wildfires across the state. KDEM personnel are in contact with county emergency managers to respond with state assistance, if needed.

The State Emergency Operation Center is activated to a level 3- Enhanced Steady State Activation to coordinate response efforts. Representatives from The Kansas Division of Emergency Management, the Kansas National Guard, Dept. of Agriculture, Wildlife and Parks and the office of the State Fire Marshal were in the SEOC.

The Kansas National Guard has placed several Black Hawk helicopters with Bambi buckets on stand-by. The KSNG's Joint Operations Center was also activated.

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