WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a verbal disaster declaration after several agencies in Cheyenne County near Saint Francis responded to a large grass fire.
The fire is 100 percent contained. Crews are on scene monitoring hot spots.
Governor Kelly said local officials evacuated several homes and residents in the area have been alerted to the danger in case evacuation becomes necessary.
“We want to do everything we can to help the local first responders get these fires under control as quickly as possible,” Kelly said. “This declaration will allow our state agencies to take whatever steps are necessary to assist when requested.”
Cheyenne County Emergency Management said the fire spread over “approximately 19 lane miles of highway” Saturday morning, first reported at 11:30 a.m. The highway in reference is US-36.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management in Topeka is monitoring the situation and if needed will activate the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the response. Cheyenne County is requesting aerial aviation assets for fire suppression and KDEM is coordinating those assets with the Kansas Forest Service.
The Kansas Highway Patrol is currently assisting local law enforcement with traffic control.
Most of the fire is in a rural, sparsely populated area. No occupied homes were damaged, but a voluntary evacuation notice was given to area residents. Some vacant structures were damaged in the fire, CCEM says.
No injuries have been reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those effected and with our emergency responders,” the CCEM Facebook page said. “We will update as more information is available.”
KDEM officials are reminding Kansans to avoid any activity that could create a spark and start a new fire. Because open fires can quickly get out of control, even for experienced fire fighters, people should avoid open burning. Check with the local authorities in each county for information regarding county burn bans. Do not drive on or stop your car on dry or tallgrass because your exhaust can spark a fire; do not throw cigarettes on the ground. Check and re-check any recent fires for rekindling.