RILEY COUNTY (KSNT) – High wind conditions caused two small fires to grow into larger wildfires in Riley County Wednesday, prompting a swift response from local firefighters.

Vivienne Leyva, a Riley County spokesperson, said members of the Riley County Fire District #1 responded to two fires during dangerous conditions March 15.

Firefighters received the first call at 12:18 p.m. for reports of heavy black smoke in the Baldwin Park Rd. area in northern Riley County, according to Leyva. Fire crews found a brush pile had rekindled and spread out of control, igniting other flammable materials in the area. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before it could threaten any lives or buildings.

“With dry conditions and winds gusting to 45 mph today, this fire could have been catastrophic,” said Deputy Fire Chief Doug Russell. “Outdoor burning was not allowed Wednesday, and we’re expecting dangerous fire conditions to continue. Hopefully, we’ll get good rain today and spring burning can resume safely soon.”

(Photos Courtesy/Riley County Rural Fire District #1)

A second call came out at 3:35 p.m. and firefighters with the Riley County Fire District #1 were sent out again, this time to a fire at the intersection of Anderson Ave. and West 60th Ave. near Manhattan, according to Leyva. A grass fire had quickly expanded in size near Hidden Valley Trail, prompting firefighters to call for additional assistance from the Fort Riley Fire Department and the Manhattan Fire Department.

“Steep, rocky terrain, extremely dry fuels, and strong winds made this a difficult fire to control,” said Russell. “We would get one area extinguished and flying ember would ignite and create another head fire downwind. Thanks to the quick response from multiple agencies, we were able to attack the fire quickly and keep it from spreading to homes.”

The second fire burned for more than four hours, according to Leyva. It took more than 25 firefighters to douse the flames which burned an estimated 400 acres. No structures or livestock were destoyed and no injuries occurred during this fire.

Leyva said people should call 911 if they spot an out-of-control fire in their neighborhood. Those who wish to burn outdoors, including brush piles or pastures, need to acquire a burn permit. This can be done by going online here or by calling 785-537-6338.