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Rangeland Fire Danger "High" for 4th of July

FLINT-HILLS-CROPPEDView of the Flint Hills from an I-70 rest stop, west of Topeka. State officials say tinder dry conditions across the state have increased the risk of rangeland fires. (Photo by J. Schafer)

Kansas will be under high to very high rangeland fire danger through the Fourth of July.  Jason Hartman, a fire protection specialist with the Kansas Forest Service, says several thousand acres have already been lost to wildfires over the past week in northwest and north central Kansas. And, he says, careless use of fireworks could easily translate into huge new fires.  Hartman has just returned from helping fight the enormous forest fires in Colorado, which already have made that state’s wildfire season the worst on record. Like Kansas, Colorado has been through a long stretch of unusually dry and unusually warm weather.  As defined by the National Weather Service office in Topeka, the difference between a high and a very high fire index rating come down to two things: Whether wildfires are likely, or... whether they’re likely to start easily from almost any cause and... whether windy conditions could make them difficult to control.  Hartman says the only reason Kansas isn’t under a Red Flag Warning right now is because the wind speed probably won’t exceed 20-25 mph.  That, and the fact that the relative humidity should be above 20-25 percent.

photo(6)View of the Flint Hills from an I-70 rest stop, west of Topeka.  Same photo as above, but not stretched!

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