Groups warn of continued fire dangers in Kansas and Missouri

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP Modified) - Residents in Kansas and Missouri are being urged to continue observing local burn bans as the risk of wildfires remains high.

A multi-agency group called the Kansas Wildland Fire Prevention and Education Team said Wednesday that recent, scattered rain did little to lower the threat.

The Education Team says Kansans should be especially careful using equipment that may create sparks.

And the return of hot, dry weather to western Missouri is prompting warnings from the state Conservation Department that the risk of wildfires remains high.

Parts of the region received some rainfall over the weekend. But the agency says it wasn't enough to end the wildfire danger, given the severity of this year's drought. Burn bans are still in place for all Conservation Department land and in many counties in both states.

Regional forestry supervisor Mark Nelson says the department helped fight a 40-acre blaze Monday in west-central Missouri. Since July 1, MDC crews have averaged one fire a day in rural west-central Missouri or the Kansas City metro area.

Nelson says the public is urged to be careful with lit cigarettes and with farm machinery that can give off sparks.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Forest Service reports that more than 41,000 acres and 26 structures have burned statewide since May. The agency says the past week alone saw seven fires that scorched more than 8,000 acres.

Officials say this summer's fires are burning especially hot, making them harder to suppress.

Rain chances are in the forecast over the Labor Day weekend, but the precipitation isn't expected to eliminate the drought conditions.

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