TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Fire crews from all around northeast Kansas worked tirelessly to stop wildfires across the area on April 2. These first responders had assistance from one Seneca-based agricultural company, Heinen Brothers Agra Services.
‘Heinen Brothers’ helps farmers all across the state with their aerial farming techniques. On April 2, their job responsibilities went from producing quality agricultural work to saving lives, when asked to help extinguish fires in both Shawnee and Riley County.
“We loaded the first tanker out of the strip here and took a load down to Shawnee and ended up doing six drops on that fire,” Jim Uselton, Chief Pilot for Heinen Brothers, said.
Heinen Brothers is contracted to assist with wildfires through the Kansas Forest Service. Their planes hold up to 800 gallons of water. This was their first round of wildfires to extinguish this season.
According to Uselton, the Shawnee County wildfire burned nearly 2,300 acres of land and the Riley County fire burned nearly 1,000 acres of land.
“What really helps on a fire is being able to load and return quickly before the fire gets away again,” Uselton said.
Uselton has worked for Heinen Brothers for eight years now and he said helping the community is one of the best parts of his profession.
“You feel good trying to help people make sure they are safe and help the firefighters,” Uselton said. “The firefighters are working themselves to death out there on the fire line and so it’s good being able to help them.”
Residents asked to evacuate due to the wildfires were able to return home safely.