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Kansas National Guard to help put out fires in parts of state

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Posted at 11:27 AM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 14:02:33-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After a night of storms, lightning and downed power lines on Wednesday, the Kansas National Guard and Kansas Forest Service are being deployed to help put out fires that have sprung up in central and western parts of the state.

"Gov. Laura Kelly issued a declaration of a State of Disaster Emergency on Thursday, Dec. 9 due to elevated dangers of wildland fires," a release said.

The Kansas National Guard is expected to use helicopters to bring water to much needed areas which ground crews can't reach.

"The Kansas National Guard will deploy UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to key locations to expedite assistance to local responders," the release said. "The helicopters are equipped with collapsible buckets used to draw water from water sources to drop on areas that are difficult for ground crews to reach."

The already-existing fire risk was exacerbated by the significant winds on Wednesday.

"The winds yesterday made it difficult to get burning fires contained,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said in the release. “Local responders work heroically to respond when wildland fires threaten their communities and the state stands ready to back them up, if needed.”

The threat of more fires also still persists.

"Conditions across the state are dry with low relative humidity, gusting winds, and an abundance of dry grass and other flammable vegetation," the release said.

Fires from the region may not be directly impacting Kansas City, but the smokey smell was blown in by the winds.

Many residents noted the smell of burning, and the air quality in the city took a marked decline.