(Riley County, KS – March 16, 2023) Riley County Fire District #1 was dispatched to two fires during dangerous conditions Wednesday, March 15.

The first call was dispatched at 12:18 p.m. for reports of heavy black smoke in the Baldwin Park Rd. area in northern Riley County. Upon arrival, crews found a rekindled brush pile that had spread out of control and ignited other limbs and grass nearby posing a major threat to the area. The fire was quickly extinguished and only a small area burned. No structures were lost and no injuries were reported.

“With dry conditions and winds gusting to 45 mph today, this fire could have been catastrophic,” said Deputy Fire Chief Doug Russell. “Outdoor burning was not allowed Wednesday, and we’re expecting dangerous fire conditions to continue. Hopefully, we’ll get good rain today and spring burning can resume safely soon.”

Then, at 3:35 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, Riley County Fire District #1 was dispatched to the intersection of Anderson Avenue and West 60th Avenue near Manhattan for reports of a large grass fire. Upon arrival, crews found a rapidly expanding grass fire near Hidden Valley Trail. Due to speed and intensity, mutual assistance was requested from Fort Riley Fire Department and Manhattan Fire Department. A total of 25 personnel and 4 chief officers responded on 15 apparatus.

“Steep, rocky terrain, extremely dry fuels, and strong winds made this a difficult fire to control,” said Deputy Fire Chief Doug Russell. “We would get one area extinguished and flying ember would ignite and create another head fire downwind. Thanks to the quick response from multiple agencies, we were able to attack the fire quickly and keep it from spreading to homes.”

Crews worked for over four hours to control the fire, then remained on scene using hand tools and chainsaws to address hot spots in wooded areas. An estimated 400 acres burned.

One residence had to be temporarily evacuated for safety, but no structures or livestock were lost. No injuries have been reported as a result of this fire.

The cause of the fire was determined to be a powerline that was struck by a fallen tree limb.

This morning, crews returned to each burned area to make sure no areas had rekindled.

If you see an unattended fire or suspect an out-of-control fire in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 right away.

Anyone outside of city limits in Riley County who would like to burn outdoors, including brush piles or pastures, needs to get a burn permit. Visit www.rileycountyks.gov/burnpermit for more information or call Emergency Management at 785-537-6338. Outdoor burning is not allowed within Manhattan city limits.

Outdoor burn permit holders are responsible for the fires they set, including the potential damage that may be caused and the smoke the fires produce. Agreement to those terms is part of the burn permit process. When conditions allow, following best practices for outdoor burning is a crucial safety component.

Find more information about outdoor burning or joining Riley County Fire District #1 at www.rileycountyks.gov/fire.

Riley County is proud to have the state’s largest consolidated volunteer fire department, with 120 active members. Additional volunteers are always needed, and you can find more information about joining the department online at www.rileycountyks.gov/fire or by calling the office at (785) 537-6333.