WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Gov. Laura Kelly issued a declaration of a State of Disaster Emergency starting at 8 a.m. today, Friday, Oct. 21, due to a high risk of wildland fires over the weekend, with the primary threat being on Sunday.

The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria.

The KSN Storm Track 3 weather team says there is a threat for fires for the majority of the state with dry conditions with low relative humidity, gusting winds, and an abundance of dry grass and other flammable vegetation.

“As we have seen in past years, wildland fires can cause widespread destruction and present a very real threat to life and property,” Gov. Kelly said. “Outdoor burning of any kind is strongly discouraged, whether getting rid of unwanted brush or enjoying a backyard barbecue. It only takes a spark to start a fire that can quickly get out of control.”

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management State Emergency Operations Center will be staffed on Saturday and Sunday to monitor the situation and assist counties with requests for state assistance. 

Kansas Forest Service will have aviation assets on standby along with ground resources.

“Critical fire weather returns to Kansas earlier than normal this year,” Rodney Redinger, Kansas Forest Service Assistant Fire Management Officer said. “With harvest and hunting in full swing, there is an increased chance for human caused ignition sources. On Sunday, fires will ignite easily and be extremely hard to contain, especially in the western portions of the state. Vegetation barriers that normally slow or stop fires will carry fire easily due to the drought and low humidity. Please be aware of the conditions and take every precaution necessary to prevent any fires this weekend.”