WICHITA/HAYSVILLE, Kan. (KSNW) — Rodney Redinger has worked for the Kansas Forest Service for 20 years. He said amid critical fire danger concerns over the next few days, his office is working with the Office of the State Marshal and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.
Redinger said given the severity of the conditions, much of the state is currently a tinderbox.
“Anything that’s, that’s gonna cause a spark, right, is going to have devastating effects,” he said.
Redinger said in addition to keeping firefighting aircraft on standby, 20 Kansas Forest Service coordinators are currently working with hundreds of fire departments on high alert.
“You think back to the Anderson Creek Fire, the Starbuck Fire out in SW Kansas. Those fires burned hundreds of thousands of acres in similar weather conditions,” he said.
Sedgwick County Fire District is among those on high alert. Lieutenant Cameron Meier with Station 34 said the district will staff extra vehicles over the next few days. While he said this is business as usual, he urges residents to be extremely weather aware.
“With the fire danger being higher, stuff gets out of control so fast, so even though our response times are faster, even though we do staff those trucks, by the time we get there, it’s so hard to put those out,” Lt. Meier said.
KSN Storm Track 3 Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman said property owners should pay close attention to recently burned brush piles.
“Something that our weather team has been exposed to … is the fact that if you burned something earlier this week, if you have that pile, maybe it’s still smoldering. That’s where a lot of these wildfires will come from,” Teachman said.
Redinger said you should also bring patio furniture inside, trim branches from nearby trees (so they’re not hanging close to the ground) and move leaves and other flammable materials away from the exterior of your home.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure … it’s pretty amazing how if you had five feet of nonburnable material next to your house, that five foot can buy your home a lot,” Redinger said.