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Governor Issued Disaster Declaration For Massive Finney County Grassfire

Judd Weil-News Director

judd.rmmedia@gmail.com


[FINNEY COUNTY, Kan.]


A wildfire in Finney County on June 13, prompted Governor Laura Kelly to issue a verbal declaration of a State of Disaster Emergency. The declaration authorized the use of state resources and personnel to assist local authorities with response and recovery operations.


At approximately 1418 hours, Command 4 (CMD4), Command 3 (CMD3), Command 1 (CMD1), Brush 4, Brush 3, and Tender 2 with the Garden City Fire Department were dispatched to a possible wheat field on fire at Jennie Barker and Quarterhorse Road.


Upon arrival, CMD4 found a large grass fire in a grass pasture rapidly growing and spreading towards the houses on Quarterhorse.


CMD4 advised Finney County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) to initiate a callback to station. CMD4 also advised Tender 1 to respond to the call for structural protection. CMD4 advised Brush 4 their priority would be protecting the houses. Brush 3 arrived on scene and assisted with exposure protection. CMD3 arrived and became west side command while CMD4 drove to the north and did a 360 of the fire.


The fire was in a CRP grass field approximately 300 acres in size with another grass field approximately 300 acres in size to the north.


CMD4 observed approximately 1500 acres of uncut wheat to the east, a circle of uncut wheat and two more houses to the northeast, and more uncut wheat directly north.


At this time, Finney County Sheriffs advised they would be evacuating five houses in possible danger.


CMD4 advised LEC to call Holcomb County Fire Department, Garfield Township, and Scott County Fire Department. The request for assistance supplied an additional 11 brush trucks.


Tenders from the county arrived, and approximately 10 tractors with discs arrived on scene to help contain and control the spread of the fire.


Due to the large size, dry fuel, and wind conditions, CMD1 worked with Finney County Emergency Manager to get a local declaration signed and sent to the State of Kansas.


After Governor Laura Kelly issued a State of Disaster Emergency and signed the declaration, two planes from Tri-State Rotor were dispatched and used to help control the fire. Kansas Forest Service also dispatched at that time.


The two aircraft dropped a total of three times each and would refill water at the Garden City Regional Airport with assistance from Garden City firefighters and CFR7.


After the fire was contained and there was no forward movement, the fire was deemed under control and Scott County, Garfield Township, and air support from Tri-Rotor were released.


Fire personnel remained on scene with Kansas Forest Service and mopped up the area. CMD4 and Kansas Forest Service called this fire under control at 4:40 p.m.


The fire was deemed out at 6:42 p.m. and all units returned to service.


In total, five homes were evacuated.


Approximately 700 acres burned, and 40 personnel were on scene fighting the fire. Total response included four tenders, one engine, 11 brush trucks, 10 tractors with discs, two aircraft, and five incident commanders. Sixteen personnel responded to the callback to station and were dispatched to four separate incidents.


At this time, the cause of the fire has been deemed unintentional and the cause was a bearing failure in a wheat header. An estimate of damage is currently unknown.