Kansas Face Dangers Unrelated to Coronavirus; Thursday's Fire Danger Forecast: Very High to Extreme
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — While many Kansas residents hunker down at home, hoping to avoid the coronavirus, state officials are reminding residents that the state is still facing other dangers unrelated to the virus, like wildfires.
Despite recent rains in some parts of Kansas, the risk of wildland fires continues. “Our emergency responders have so much to deal with during this challenging time," Governor Laura Kelly said, "so we must all do our part to minimize the danger of wildfires so they can concentrate on dealing with the effects of the virus.” The southwest region is of special concern right now, with its dry weather conditions. Low humidity, strong winds and an abundance of dry grass and other flammable vegetation in the southwest have created ideal circumstances for fires that could burn out of control.
The Grassland Fire Danger Index for southwest Kansas is already high to very high and things will soon get worse. On Thursday, the fire danger forecast will be in the Very High to Extreme category for almost the entire state. Outdoor burning bans are in effect for some counties and and highly discouraged in others.
Last year, Kansas fire departments responded to more than 2,500 vegetation-related fires that caused four deaths and burned almost 28,000 acres in the state. Almost 500 of these fires required counties to seek mutual assistance to bring them under control.
Kansans are urged to use extreme caution when burning outdoors, even with barbecue grills. Be sure all smoking materials are extinguished before discarding them. It only takes a spark to start a fire. Storms systems will be moving into the state this weekend and into the early part of next week, which should help mitigate the risk of fires across Kansas.
Kansans are encouraged to sign up for weather alerts on their phones or other devices and use a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio.