Warm Temps, High Winds Bring Extreme Fire Danger

By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email
By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email

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Friday, February 6, 2009

The spring-like temperatures may be a warm welcome, but fire officials say Friday's conditions pose an extreme fire danger.

Fire crews fought a grass fire in Butler Couty just after noon. It charred more than 100 acres along Southwest 70th just East of Sante Fe Road. They're still not sure exactly what sparked it. What they do know is weather conditions played a big part in how fast it spread.

"Wind is a big factor but the biggest factor is how dry it is," said Augusta Department of Public Safety Chief Tyler Brewer.

And because of that fire crews across the area are on high alert. Sedgwick County and Wichita firefighters are on full standby mode.

"Anytime we have a grass fire today it has the potential to be explosive," said Wichita Fire Chief Ed Bricknell.

Bricknell says Friday's conditions mirror those two years ago when a fire sparked at 25th and Bluff. High wind carried it along a two block area within minutes. Two houses burned and the fire nearly destroyed three others. Investigators believe a cigarette thrown out a car window started it all.

To keep small fires from quickly spreading out of control the fire department will now send in more manpower immediately.

"What we're doing is we would now send more unites than we normally would to a grass fire so we can stay on top of things," said Bricknell.

While the extreme fire danger is officially suppossed to end at 6 p.m. Friday, crews urge people to still be careful through the weekend.

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