(RILEY COUNTY, KS – April 5, 2021) Several fires kept Riley County Fire District #1 busy this past weekend.
The first fire was in the 8000 block of Blue River Hills Road in the central part of the county on Friday. It’s estimated that roughly 600 acres were burned due to the rekindling of a controlled burn. The inaccessible terrain added to the challenges of this large fire. According to a news release by Riley County Public Information Officer Alice Massimi, a local disaster emergency declaration was issued to enable Riley County to utilize two 600-gallon Kansas Forest Service contracted airplane tankers. Units from Manhattan, Fort Riley and Waterville assisted. No one was injured, and while structures were threatened, none were damaged.
On Saturday morning, Riley County sent a task force to Pottawatomie County to assist in a brush fire that started due to a truck hauling debris that was on fire along Highway 13. Four brush trucks, two tankers and a command officer provided support.
Sunday, the rekindle of another controlled burn burned around 200 acres in the 8500 block of Condray Road. The property owner and his family did evacuate, but no structures were damaged. Unlike most brush fires in the area, this fire involved a grove of mature trees.
“I haven’t seen flames like this since I saw a true forest fire in Colorado,” said Lt Ross Hauck, a volunteer with Riley County Fire District #1.
One Riley County water tanker truck was damaged when embers ignited the air filter. Riley County Public Works is currently investigating the extent of the damage.
While crews were battling the fire on Condray Road, a call came in for another brush fire, this one on 18055 Bjorling Road. Crews were rerouted to this fire, and Olsburg Fire Department in Pottawattamie County assisted. Roughly 20 acres were affected.
Later in the afternoon, another fire was reported in northern Riley County. Knowing that Riley County Fire services were busy with the other fires, Marshall County Fire services responded.
While the number of brush fires is average for this time of year, it is important to remember that they can be life-threatening when they get out of control.
“Part of the responsibility of conducting controlled burns is to check on the fire a couple of hours and days after it is finished to make sure the fire is completely out,” reminds Riley County Emergency Director Russel Stukey.
Stukey reminds those looking to have a control burn, contact Emergency Management to get a burn permit. You can call the office at 785-537-6333 or fill out and submit the permit request online https://www.rileycountyks.gov/forms.aspx?FID=201
“Just because the weather may seem great one day, it does not mean the following days are also good to burn,” points out Stukey. “Which is why when we issue burn bans, we take into consideration the weather that day and the next two days.”