Fire crews talk impact of dry conditions, hope for rain

By Molly Brewer
KSN – March 24, 2017

 

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Fires across the state continue as many fire crews hope for rain to slow things down.

 

KSN talked with Sedgwick County fire officials to find out why the fire danger is so high right now.

 

It starts with the green summer we had in 2016, followed by a winter lacking snow for much of the state, according to Division Chief, Robert Timmons with the Sedgwick County Fire District 1.

 

Now, vegetation is dry and standing straight up, making it easier for a fire to ignite and spread quickly.

 

“Once we get some moisture, things will start greening up a lot quicker. If fires do occur they will move at a slower pace because there will be more of the green coming in and it’ll slow down; the moisture on the ground will slow down the spread of the fire,” Timmons said.

 

Because of the frequent fires crews around Kansas have had to respond to, many fire divisions’ resources are draining.

 

In Sedgwick County, crews have been running grass levels two and three, meaning they’re sending out two, three, even four times as many rigs to each fire,” Timmons said.

 

If conditions can green up, firefighters will be able to lower back down to a normal response, which typically involves sending one unit and calling for backup if needed once they get to the scene, he said.

 

“Right now on the initial alarm we’re sending quite a few vehicles across the county and expenses are up from fuel issues,” Timmons said. “It’s also a safety issue with traffic. Anytime we send a fire truck funning red lights and sirens to an alarm, they have to be very, very… show due diligence and show caution for the public.”

 

The public can help by using extra caution in the meantime, he said. Whether that’s using barbeque grills outside or personal fire pits, keep the dry conditions in mind.

 

One thing you can do is wet the area around your fire pit to slow any fires that could start, Timmons suggested.