FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — A wildfire in Finney County that caused Gov. Laura Kelly to issue a verbal declaration of a State of Emergency on Monday burned approximately 700 acres and evacuated five homes.
The fire was deemed unintentional, and the cause was a bearing failure in a wheat header. The wheat header is the attachment on the front of a combine that cuts the wheat.
According to a news release by the Garden City Fire Department, around 2:18 p.m. on Monday, fire units were dispatched to a possible wheat field on fire at Jennie Barker Road and Quarterhorse Drive north of Garden City.
When they arrived, they found a large grass fire in a pasture rapidly growing and spreading toward the houses on Quarterhorse Drive. Crews then began fighting the fire, primarily focusing on saving the buildings that were in danger.
Finney County Sheriffs evacuated five homes that were in possible danger. The Finney County Law Enforcement Center then called the Holcomb County Fire Department, Garfield Township, and Scott County Fire Department to assist in fighting the fire.
At 3:31 p.m., Kelly issued the verbal declaration of a State of Emergency.
“Despite recent rains, there is still a risk of wildland fires across the state,” Kelly said. “I urge all Kansans to avoid outdoor burning, if possible, and to remain vigilant. It only takes a single spark from a lawn mower, a car engine, an unattended barbecue, or other source to touch off a wildfire that could have devastating effects.”
After the declaration, Tri-State Rotor was dispatched and used to help control the fire. The Kansas Forest Service was also dispatched. At 4:40 p.m., the fire was deemed under control, and Scott County, Garfield Township, and air support from Tri-State Rotor were released.
In total, five homes were evacuated, approximately 700 acres were burned, and 40 people were on the scene fighting the fire. The total response included four tenders, one engine, 11 brush trucks, 10 tractors with discs, two aircraft, and five incident commanders.
An estimate of the damage is still unknown.