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Wildfires in south-central Kansas scorch hundreds of acres


Several fires broke out in Harper and Kingman counties Tuesday afternoon.

Winds gusting to 55 miles per hour were reported in the south-central Kansas counties; add the area being in extreme drought, dry grass and low humidity, the concern for fires was high and rightfully so.

“The wind is really causing a problem,” said City of Harper firefighter Jaci Ummel.

Ummel was helping refill water tanks for crews battling the flames. While waiting for trucks to show up, a fire broke out feet from her tanker truck; only a small section of dry grass was left after a fire burned the area and an ember ignited the grass which quickly spread in a confined area.

Ummel took action, grabbing a fire hose and extinguishing the flames.

“Sometimes things just smolder for awhile, they have a real problem with that,” Ummel said.

There was a large fire in the Rago area in Kingman County and fires near Attica and Harper in Harper County.

Brian Conaway was using a garden hose to wet his daughter’s homes roof and siding, hoping the fire just a mile away would not spread to the property.

“Just trying to get things wetted down so if the embers from the fire come down, maybe we have a chance," Conaway said.

Farmers in the area were quickly hitching cattle trailers to move livestock out of the path of the fire.

“We finally got the cattle out of the way,” said longtime Harper County farmer Kenny Williams. “I hope that no one gets hurt and no homes are burnt down.”

The fires in Kingman and Harper counties burned hundreds of acres and reports of property damage have yet to come in.

Farmers who had grassland catch fire are now concerned about blowing dust since the grass that anchors the soil is now turned to ash.

The cause of the fires is being looked into by firefighters.

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