Manhattan Firefighters stand near a fire truck in an August 2011 file photo.

The Manhattan Fire Department has sent a fire engine to Hutchinson to help battle wildfires there.

“Last night Reno County was requesting 50 fire engines and 58 brush trucks,” MFD Assistant Chief Sam Dameron told KMAN Tuesday. “So we sent one fire engine with a crew of four personnel down there to help contain the blaze they are having in that area.”

The Flint Hills area remains under a Red Flag Warning, meaning no outside burning — even with a permit — is allowed.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that Gov. Sam Brownback has asked Wyoming and South Dakota for equipment to help fight the wildfires in the state.

Dameron’s full interview with KMAN’s Brady Bauman can be heard below:

      MFD Assistant Chief Sam Dameron


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Brownback told reporters Tuesday that 10 communities in the state saw residents evacuated at least temporarily Monday and Tuesday as fires burned about 625 square miles.

Brownback is asking Wyoming to send helicopters for dropping water and South Dakota to send communications equipment.

He’s says he’s concerned that the dry, windy conditions will continue for another day or two and could return later in the spring.

The AP also reports that about 70 structures have been damaged or destroyed so far in Kansas.

The State Emergency Operations Center said Tuesday that at least 30 homes are destroyed in Reno County, with the possibility that more are damaged. Crews have been unable to assess damages because of the fire in the area about 40 miles northwest of Wichita.

The heaviest damage has been in Clark County on the state’s southern border with Oklahoma, where about 545 square miles have burned. About 30 structures and bridges in the county have been damaged.

“I know yesterday the wind shifted on them from the north to the northeast,” Dameron said. “Obviously this winter has been pretty dry for us. The grass is real dry and really in Kansas, we haven’t experienced anything like this til last year when the fire in Oklahoma got started and burned up into Kansas.

“So, fires this big are pretty rare in Kansas, and obviously a very big deal. When the winds are blowing up to 45 miles per hour, they’re very hard to get under control.”

Dameron also said such dry conditions make storms with lightening especially dangerous.

“Very much so,” he said. “The lightening could easily set off a grass fire.”

In the western part of the state, seven homes in Ford County, two homes in Rooks County and a bridge in Meade County were destroyed.

Fires also are burning in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado.

Kansas Department of Emergency Management Katie Horner says 10,000 to 12,000 people voluntarily evacuated their homes Monday night in Reno County, according to the AP. She says 66 people were in shelters Tuesday in Hutchinson as crews continued fighting fires that started over the weekend.

The largest of the blazes was burning in rural southwest Kansas’ Clark County, where about 545 square miles has burned. Horner says 30 structures have been damaged, and bridges have been compromised. That fire is now 61 percent contained.

Evacuations also have been ordered in Russell, and Comanche counties.

Horner says all but four of the state’s 105 counties are under red-flag warnings of critical wildfire conditions.

The post MFD sends truck, crew to help battle wildfires near Hutchinson appeared first on News Radio KMAN.

Source: KMAN Local News