With the majority of grassfires now under control across the state, response teams and assets that deployed to assist local authorities are being demobilized. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management reduced staffing in the State Emergency Operations Center to a partial activation level at 7 p.m. last night. It will remain staffed at this level until further notice.
Yesterday, Governor Sam Brownback signed Executive Order 17-01 to assist fire relief efforts throughout the state. The executive order facilitates the immediate delivery of large quantities of hay, feed, fencing materials, and other relief supplies by waiving certain motor carrier regulations. The full text of the executive order can be found here at https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Executive-Order-17-01-DRAFT.pdf
The Kansas Livestock Association is working with private donors to provide hay for cattle in counties that suffered extensive loss of grazing lands and baled hay. Anyone wishing to donate to these efforts should contact KLA. Information is available on the KLA website at http://www.kla.org/donationform.aspx.
Fire crews continue to work active fires in Clark County (70 percent contained), Comanche (90 percent contained), Ellis (98 percent contained), Reno (95 percent contained), and Rooks (97 percent contained). Fire crews will continue to monitor all fires for hot spots and flare-ups. According to figures from local county officials across the state, the estimated total number of acres burned now stands at approximately 711,950 acres.
KDEM officials are reminding Kansans the potential for grassfire still exists in many areas of the state due to dry weather conditions. Although there is no statewide burn ban, residents are urged to contact their local emergency management or sheriff’s office to find out if a burn ban exists in their area. The best practice under current conditions is to refrain from burning anything outdoors.
The Kansas National Guard has two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with collapsible 660-gallon water buckets assisting ground fire crews in suppressing fires in Clark County. Two CH-47 Army Reserve Chinook helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft from the U.S. Forestry Service have also been conducting water drop operations. Since these missions began, the aircraft have dropped approximately 263,410 gallons of water.
The Chinook helicopters and the fixed-wing aircraft will demobilize today. Two Black Hawks will remain in Clark County to assist ground crews.
KDEM advises anyone wishing to contribute to ongoing disaster relief efforts to donate cash to disaster relief organizations rather than donating goods. Officials recommends Kansans donating to reputable disaster relief organizations of their choice or local organizations within the affected communities