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Gov. Kelly issues disaster declaration for fire hazard

PHOTOS:50+ acres burned in Platte Co. grass fire
Posted at 11:03 AM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 12:03:37-05

TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly issued an emergency disaster declaration Monday as weather conditions bring a high risk of fires this week.

Kelly said in a news release that elevated to critical fire weather is expected for the next four days, with extra concern on Tuesday and Wednesday when a storm with strong winds is forecast to move across the state.

Conditions that fuel fires are extremely dry across the state and fire behavior has been "erratic" for several days, the announcement said.

The declaration puts state personnel and resources, such as helicopters, on standby to allow the state to more quickly help local fire departments.

Kansans are being urged to avoid any activity that could spark a fire, such as stopping a car on dry grass or tossing cigarettes on the ground.

The Kansas National Guard is also prestaging resources, including four Black Hawk helicopters, to help with fire suppression. The Kansas Forest Service is searching for agriculture pilots to help and is asking other states about the availability of firefighting resources.