RILEY COUNTY (KSNT) – An illegally started fire in Riley County consumed 60 acres of land and threatened two homes Wednesday.
Riley County spokeswoman Vivienne Leyva reports that members of the Riley County Fire District #1 were sent to an area near High Plains Trail to the southwest of Tuttle Creek Lake Dam after being told a fire was burning there. Upon arrival, the firefighters determined it was an illegally set outdoor burn that had grown out of control.
Leyva said an estimated 60 acres were burned during the fire. An Evergy electrical transformer junction was damaged but no power outages occurred during the incident. Two homes were also threatened but no evacuations were issued and no structures were damaged. No one was injured during the fire.
“This was a difficult fire to fight and I called for mutual aid from the Manhattan Fire Department because I knew we would need additional help to get it under control,” said Deputy Chief Doug Russell. “The terrain was steep and the strong wind swirled in the valleys, creating small fire tornadoes. I’m grateful we had enough personnel available to attack this fire quickly and protect the neighboring homes.”
Leyva said outdoor burning was not allowed in Riley County Wednesday afternoon due to high winds and dangerous fire conditions. All burn permit holders must notify the local authorities before outdoor burning can begin and only when weather conditions allow, according to Riley County regulations. Permit holders are required to have adequate equipment and manpower to conduct the burn safely.
Leyva said the property owner did not follow the terms of the burn permit process and was issued a citation for the violation.
“The first step in the process to conduct an outdoor burn is to contact Riley County Emergency Management or visit our website to apply for a free burn permit,” Russell said. “Staff will share advice and information for conducting the burn safely.”
Dangerous fire conditions are expected to last for several more days, according to Leyva. A wind advisory will be in effect starting at noon Thursday, March 30 through to 4 a.m. March 31, as issued by the National Weather Service.
This comes days after three other wildfires burned large parts of Riley County earlier in March. Two back-to-back wildfires on March 15 taxed firefighters while a large one on March 20 burned around 300 acres of land.
To find more information about burn permits or to apply to serve as a volunteer with the Riley County Fire District #1, click here or call 785-537-6333. To sign up for emergency notifications in Riley County, click here.