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K-State Research and Extension News

Mitigation project switches gears to provide assistance in south-central Kansas

fireReleased: March 24, 2016

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – As part of its 12th annual Hazardous Fuels Mitigation Project, the Kansas Forest Service fire staff began the week in Hutchinson, Kansas. The project’s aim was to reduce fuels on public lands where adjacent life or property could be harmed in the event of a wildfire. At the start of the week, the mitigation team worked on decreasing accumulated brush that acts as fuel for wildfire in Sand Hills State Park, Dillon Nature Center and Prairie Dunes Country Club.

The plan for the week changed when a wildfire broke out in Woods County, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, March 22. Warm, dry air and extremely high winds pushed the Anderson Creek fire into Comanche and Barber counties in Kansas.

One of the resources the mitigation project has always offered to local fire departments during the mitigation event is assistance with management and response to wildfire. On Wednesday, March 23, Comanche County contacted mitigation personnel requesting their assistance in management of the wildfire. The mitigation team is coordinating with the Oklahoma response on this incident.

Not only smoke, but also sand and dust picked up by the winds in the burned areas have created visibility issues, according to the mitigation project’s public information officer. A surveillance flight is being flown this morning, March 24, and an accurate burned acreage will be available this afternoon.

Two residences in the Medicine Lodge area have been destroyed, as well as a number of outbuildings, the mitigation PIO reported. There have been no serious injuries and no fatalities. Containment and suppression efforts have begun this morning along a line in east-central Barber County roughly delineated by U.S. Route 281.

Currently two fire divisions are operating with fire resources and are being staffed by incoming mutual aid personal. The fire structural division will continue to patrol in previously burned areas to identify any rekindles that could threaten residences and businesses. Operations will continue through the night.

The Anderson Creek wildfire is one of the largest in Kansas’ history and has been designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a Fire Declaration Grant incident, making cost resources available for state and local operations. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has declared a state of emergency.

Firefighters from four states and 18 different agencies who are participating in the mitigation project are now in south-central Kansas to assist in the suppression of this wildfire. Hutchinson Community College fire science students currently participating in the mitigation project have traveled with the mitigation team as part of their training. Their participation in this wildfire response will add invaluable experience and real-life situational skills to their training. The project’s objectives will continue to focus on firefighter and public safety, while assisting local agencies.

Many of the project’s goals in the Hutchinson area were accomplished during the first part of this week. Plans for the remainder of the mitigation project in Hutchinson will be suspended due to the critical need for resources at this incident.

An Anderson Creek – Kansas Fire representative will answer questions about the fire today at the Barber County Annex Building in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, at 11:00 a.m. The public information line is 620-930-0106, and you can contact the American Red Cross 620-770-1148 for donation or shelter information.

To view updates on this incident, check the Kansas Forest Service website, as well as the Kansas Forest Service Facebook page and Barber County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. Check the Kansas Department of Transportation’s website for road closures.



About the Kansas Forest Service

The Kansas Forest Service is the nation’s fifth oldest state forestry agency. The agency serves rural landowners, communities, rural fire districts, forest and arboriculture industries, and citizens of the state through its Conservation Tree and Shrub Planting, Fire Management, Community Forestry, Rural Forestry, Marketing and Utilization, and Forest Health programs. The Kansas Forest Service state office is located in Manhattan, Kansas, just off the campus of Kansas State University. The agency is administratively attached to the Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources, College of Agriculture, Kansas State University. The agency receives its direction from a mission statement that reads: “Care of Natural Resources and Service to People through Forestry.”


K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans.  Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.

Story by:
Jennifer Williams
Kansas Forest Service
jgwilliams@ksu.edu or 785-532-3308