State recommending voluntary reduction in burning

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A firefighter crew douses a line of grass fire about 15 miles southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kansas Thursday, March 24, 2016. More than 200 firefighters are battling an active fire line stretching 30 to 40 miles long in Barber County on Thursday. (Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO […]

TOPEKA, Kan.  (KSNT) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Agriculture strongly discourage spring burning.

The request comes as the state and country battle the COVID-19 virus.  The agencies are asking all land owners and managers to voluntarily reduce the number of acres that they intend to burn this spring.

“With the potential for this pandemic overwhelming the state’s medical facilities, any additional respiratory concerns that could be produced from breathing smoke from prescribed fire need to be mitigated,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary, said.

Common health problems related to smoke can include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, including COVID-19, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and the elderly may experience worse symptoms.

With resources of the county emergency response staff already being taxed with COVID-19 response, it is important to minimize responses that would come with prescribed fire activity.

It is critical that land managers in areas included in the Smoke Model available online at consult the model if they do choose to burn. The model indicates the level at which a burn would contribute to urban area air quality problems. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam urges land managers to refrain from burning, especially if your area is predicted in the large (red) contribution range.

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