By Jonathan Zweygardt
Hays Post – March 14, 2017
The Ellis County Commission approved a resolution banning all outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county at Monday’s commission meeting. The resolution adds Ellis to a growing list of counties in western and central Kansas issuing burn bans due to persistent dry conditions.
The resolution bans all outdoor burning, including trash barrels, fire pits, trash pits, fire chimneys and fields.
Firefighters battled a wildfire last week, fueled by extreme dry and windy conditions that burned nearly 6,000 acres of grassland in northern Ellis county and another 1,600 acres in western Russell County.
Anyone caught in violation of the ban can be charged with a misdemeanor and faces a fine of up to $500 if convicted.
Counties that have already issued a burn ban include Rooks, Russell, Graham, Ness, Phillips and Ellsworth counties. The Barton County Commission also issued a temporary burn ban Monday.
The Ellis County ban takes effect upon publication in the county newspaper of record.
The commission also issued a proclamation declaring Tuesday, March 14, 2017, as Rural Firefighters Day.
The proclamation aims to recognize the volunteer firefighters in Ellis County, under the direction of Director of Fire and Emergency Management Darin Myers and volunteer firefighters across Kansas and the country.
“I know that it’s been a tough week and a half, two weeks for a lot of members of Ellis County as well as landowners and farmers but we have a lot to be grateful for a group of 82 men and women that volunteer for us and really take care of Ellis county,” said Commissioner Barb Wasinger.
Wasinger said the county also wants to thank farmers and local landowners, the Red Cross, and everyone who pitched in to help during last week’s wildfires.
Myers thanked the commission for the recognition and added, “We didn’t do it all ourselves.”
“Ellis County EMS, Public Works, all the farmers, Midland Marketing, all the countless landowners that drove 20 miles across the county to bring us water,” Myers said. “We had multiple families from Ellis and Russell County bring us food.”
The county also accepted a donation of $100 from a family in southeast Ellis County that will be used to help purchase wildland face shields. Ellis County firefighters were recently called to the Pfeifer area for a grass fire and the family wanted to show its appreciation.
The two new face pieces, which help prevent firefighters from breathing in dirt and smoke, will go to Company 4 in Victoria. Myers said they typically do not accept monetary donations from citizens during or after emergency incidents.