RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — This is not the first time firefighters have been called to the area of the Cottonwood Complex fire in the last month.
Three large wildfires have started in a short period of time, leaving fire crews busy in the area.
It has the chief of the Hutchinson Fire Department saying that more needs to be done to prevent devastating fires from happening again in the future.
“Back in the day, we had around Hutch, is what I’ve been told, there was just pasture land,” said Chief Steven Beer. “They were maintained, and we just had nice short pasture grass, and we didn’t have all these cedar trees and the stuff that we’re dealing with right now.”
Leaders across the state are now looking at possible changes in hopes of stopping a spark from spreading.
“There had been a really good chance, had the brush and cedar trees had been cleaned out away from their property, that and had good access to that property, that they wouldn’t have suffered as great of a deal,” said Reno County Commissioner Ron Hirst. “Now I know that is tough for me to say, but realistically, that is what we are hearing.”
On March 22, the Reno County emergency manager will present recommendations to commissioners. It will regard land management, planning and zoning and the sheriff’s office’s ability to enforce regulations in hopes of preventing a fire like this in the future.
“By the time we get the final recommendations, some of us may have already forgotten, and so this is a long-term effort, and we should not forget how we are feeling today when we are doing this work in the future,” said Daniel Friesen, Reno County commissioner.
Some commissioners voiced concern over strict enforcement on the removal of cedar trees.
“Homeowners have rights, and I don’t think necessarily the government has the right to tell people how to landscape their property,” Reno County Commissioner Ron Hirst said.
The Reno County commission chairman says on Tuesday, March 8, they are likely to add a burn ban for the rest of the month, but any other changes will take more time.