Governor Laura Kelly issued a verbal declaration of disaster emergency this morning, March 31, due to the potential for wildland fires and severe storms in the state. The declaration will allow the state to preposition assets for a quicker response to any fires that may begin.
Much of the state is in a Red Flag Warning and high wind advisory with gusts from 45 to 55 mph. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior. Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly and become very difficult to control. Outdoor burning is not recommended.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to an enhanced steady state to keep in contact with county emergency offices and monitor weather conditions. According to the National Weather Service Office in Topeka, strong winds and low relative humidity with an abundance of dry vegetation will once again cause extreme fire danger across Kansas.
“Weather conditions are such that a high risk exists for wildland fires,” said Governor Kelly. “I urge all Kansans to be alert and use extreme caution when using their outdoor grills and other open fires. It’s better to avoid these things, if possible. A single spark is enough to touch off a fire that could have devastating consequences.”
“In preparation for the critical fire weather, this declaration will allow us to preposition and respond with additional resources from across the state,” said Mark Neely, Fire Management Officer for Kansas Forest Service.