Governor issues declaration of disaster emergency due to wildland fires – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Governor issues declaration of disaster emergency due to wildland fires

Governor Laura Kelly issued a verbal declaration of disaster emergency last night, April 12, 2023, due to wildland fires across the state, and much of northeast Kansas remains in a fire weather watch through today and tonight.

The governor’s declaration will allow the state to preposition assets for a quicker response to any fires that may begin. Wildfire resources including aviation will be available and prepared to response quickly to any requests for assistance.

Extreme dryness has developed in many parts of Kansas over the last month. Combined with above normal temperatures and persistent gusty winds, elevated fire weather concerns have occured almost daily.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management went to a partial activation of the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka at 7 a.m. Today to keep in contact with county emergency offices and monitor weather conditions.

The National Weather Service fire weather watch is in effect today through this evening due to strong winds, low humidity and dry fuels. Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly and become very difficult to control. Outdoor burning is not recommended.

The fire weather watch covers Brown, Jackson, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Lyon, and Osage counties. A fire weather watch means that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur. NWS forecast wind speeds at 20-25 mph with gusts to 30 mph today in the watch area; relative humidity is expected to be 20-25 percent.

“Fire season is in full-force, and we must all do our part to protect all Kansans,” Kelly said. “I urge everyone across the state to use extreme caution and avoid burning if at all possible.”

“The persistent drought is leaving the majority of Kansas very vulnerable to wildfires,” said Mark Neely, Fire Management Officer for Kansas Forest Service. “Fires will move quickly and be difficult to contain. Please be careful outside and report all fires immediately.”

Range fire photo, KDHE.

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