Grass Fires Sweep Through South-Central Kansas

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
March 24, 2016

Grass fires have been sweeping through south-central Kansas after spreading north from Oklahoma beginning Tuesday night. McPherson County so far has been largely spared, although by Wednesday night fires were reported coming into the county from neighboring Harvey and Reno Counties.

Governor Sam Brownback yesterday declared a state of emergency for threatened areas of south-central Kansas, specifically Barber and Comanche counties. The declaration will enable state resources to assist communities affected by these wildfires which have so far burned about 110 square miles in Kansas and Oklahoma combined.

McPherson Fire Department's Fire Chief Jeff Deal and Division Chief TJ Wyssman have been assisting with the fire fighting command in Burton, a small town in Harvey County about 24 miles south, where evacuations were underway Wednesday evening. The American Red Cross has also opened one shelter in Pratt for those who have been displaced by the wildfires in Barber, Comanche, Harvey and Reno counties.

Power outages blamed by high winds were reported in surrounding counties by Wednesday night. However, the outages reported in McPherson County this morning, in Lindsborg specifically, were due to a switch fail in the substation and were unrelated to high winds or any other cause related to the grass fires, according to Amanda Hughes at Westar Energy. The substation's failure has since been completely restored.