COWLEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — Fire officials say seven intentional grass fires have been set in Cowley County since Sunday, Feb. 19. Whether they are connected is still under investigation.
One of those fires was set Sunday in Burden. Then on Tuesday night, three others were set near Winfield and another three near Ark City later Tuesday night.
The fire marshal with the Winfield Fire Department, Chad Mayberry, says these grass fires are no joke, and they put everyone involved in danger.
“With it being as dry as it has been recently if we got enough warmth and wind, those fires can spread rapidly,” Mayberry said. “The closer to town, you have populated areas. A lot more homesteads, houses that could be jeopardized.”
The fires that happened Tuesday night had dangers beyond the weather.
“The fires this week were all at night in the dark, Mayberry said. “You can’t see the terrain very well, so it becomes much more dangerous for our guys and gals driving around in that environment.”
While each fire puts a strain on any department, for volunteer departments, it uses up limited resources such as supplies and personnel.
“Especially when we have someone that goes out and is intentionally setting fires, you’re wasting fuel,” Cowley County Fire District 3 Burden Fire Chief Chris Cannon said. “You’re wasting life of the of the truck. You’re spending money for maintenance that you wouldn’t normally have to do. And of course, then there’s the toll on your volunteers that’s time away from their job or their family.”
Mayberry also mentioned a similar situation happened in Augusta.
Cannon and Mayberry encourage the public to be vigilant and contact law enforcement if you see anything suspicious.
Mayberry also mentioned, in general, it’s a good idea to keep your property defensible against any fire – clearing out any debris, clutter or dead vegetation and keeping your grass mowed short.