Agencies give tips on wildfire risk mitigation and management
TOPEKA, Kan. – Newly-elected Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly proclaimed Feb. 4-8, 2019 as Wildfire Awareness Week.
“Kansas, like any other state, is susceptible to wildfires,” said Sen. Tom Hawk who joined in the proclamation signing. “Wildfires can easily get out of hand. One of the critical pieces of combating wildfires is that we have people at the local level who are trained and have the right equipment to fight those fires. Because every minute that passes means that a wildfire can become a real disaster.”
The 2019 wildfire season is projected to have an earlier start with a slight increase in predicted fire weather events in the southwest and central areas of the state. This is the same area that experienced significant fires in the last three years, including the Starbuck and Anderson Creek fires, burning over 800,000 acres at a cost of more than $80 million.
According to fire officials, nearly 95 percent of all wildfires result from the activity of people, and subsequently, a significant number could be prevented by taking proper actions toward fire safety. Every Kansan can implement practices highlighted during Wildfire Awareness Week to prevent dangerous wildfires.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal and Kansas Interagency Wildfire Council suggest that to mitigate the risk of wildfire and reduce potential impacts if a wildfire does occur:
- Check the forecast before conducting a prescribed burn to ensure proper conditions.
- Avoid activities that could spark fires, like welding, grinding and cutting, near buildings and potential fuel sources like dry vegetation.
- Do your part to reduce the risk of loss from wildfire to your home and property.
- Report fires to 911 immediately. Wildfires spread quickly – a quick response can reduce the impact of a potentially devastating fire.
- Check burn piles after the burn is completed. Embers in debris piles can reignite even after several days, and spark a new fire.
- Maintain a safe distance from wildfire and other emergency scenes. Emergency personnel need space to perform fire suppression activities and fire directions can change quickly, endangering bystanders
Throughout the 2019 Wildfire Awareness Week, the Kansas Interagency Wildfire Council and participating agencies will remind Kansans of the dangers posed by wildfires and the simple steps that should be followed to prepare for and prevent them.
Follow the hashtag #WildfireKS on social media during Wildfire Awareness Week to engage in the conservation. Be sure to like and follow @WildfireKS on Twitter and @KSKIWC on Facebook to see the latest on wildfire in Kansas year-round.
Kansas Forest Service