WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As much of Kansas remains dry and windy, large parts of the state continue to be in a “red flag” warning for fire danger.
“Obviously, in the spring and the summer, we worry about it,” said Stuart Bevis, Wichita’s Fire Department Marshal. “But, we have those conditions right now. So, we want people to be well aware of that because a very little bit of spark or a little bit of fire in these kind of tinderbox conditions can get out of hand pretty quick.”
County fire crews fairly made quick work of a fire off 127th East and 31st South Monday afternoon. And, while many people still have valid burn permits in the county, burning is not allowed if the wind stays above 15 miles an hour.
“No open burning today, in fact no burning at all,” said Dan Wegner, Sedgwick County Fire Division Chief. “If the winds are over 15 miles an hour like today, there is no burning. Even if you have a burn permit.”
Wegner points out the fines for burning on a no burn day start at $500. And, some fines can go well above $1,500.
“Depends on how many violations you get,” said Wegner.
Wichita fire crews have been busy lately. And some say getting the word out on dry conditions is crucial.
“With even a very slight ignition point, whether it’s a discarded cigarette or an unfortunate electrical arc from a transformer, any of those things can lead to a very significant fire,” says Bevis. “So be very careful with ignition sources. Discarding of cigarettes (out the window) is always a bad thing to do.”
Bevis says fire crews remain on alert, and they continue to evaluate wind conditions every morning.
“Any time there is wind, it’s just dangerous,” said Bevis.