High winds and low humidity have increased the danger of wildfire events for the next several days. For today, March 5, almost all of Kansas is under a “Red Flag” warning, as indicated by the dark pink on today’s hazards map (Figure 1). A red flag warning is issued for critical fire danger, and signifies that those weather conditions are occurring, or will occur shortly. The areas of western Kansas with the tan color have high wind warnings in addition to the red flag warnings. More information on red flag warnings can be found in the previous eUpdate article from Issue 672, “Learn the difference between fire weather watches and red flag warnings”.
The 1,000-acre fire that burned in Riley and Geary counties on Friday, March 2, serves as an important reminder that an out-of-control burn isn’t the only source for wildfires. The Riley/Geary fire is believed to have been started by a discarded cigarette along I-70.
Other potential sources of ignition include sparks from welding, cutting, or trimming. A hot muffler on an all-terrain vehicle or off-road truck can also serve as a starting point. The National Weather Service and the Kansas Fire Marshall encourage anyone doing outdoor work to take appropriate precautions (Figure 2). Planning ahead can keep your task on schedule and prevent a wildfire.
Sara Wood, Office of the State Fire Marshal
Chip Redmond, Weather Data Library/Mesonet
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library/Mesonet