Riley County Firefighters were called to Dry Creek Equestrian Center in the 3800 block of 69th Avenue in rural Riley County Thursday afternoon. While no real damage was reported to structures or property, County Fire Chief Pat Collins tells KMAN the fire came from a neighboring property, with varying winds, which he says is probably the “most dangerous winds to burn in.” He says the wind was blowing out of the south and all of a sudden shifted to the north, onto the Dry Creek property. Some 40 acres were affected.
Collins adds firefighters were putting out some tree fires so they didn’t reach hay bales and campers. He adds changing winds took this one, blowing it over the line and into cedar trees, with the cedar trees popping off like gasoline.
Collins admits it’s been a rough spring for burning, with it being so dry there are multiple rekindles of the same fire two,three, or four days later. The fire chief says someone may start to burn on a calm day but doesn’t monitor afterwards and the fire gets away. As a result, his volunteer firefighters may spend days putting fires out that someone burned three days ago.
Dry Creek Equestrian Owner Ken Scroggs owner says “It didn’t look frightening in the beginning but then all of a sudden when you had some standing trees catch fire it started getting pretty big. Scroggs says his ranch crew began moving stuff around and preparing to move horses if needed, but ended up only having to primarily move hay bales. He said he was glad the firefighters were there, adding “we’re kind of lucky this time.” He said they were moving hay stuff around and trying to make sure if fire did start it’s not going to go too far.
Firefighters were called to the ranch northwest of Manhattan near Keats at about 3:30 p.m. The fire was under control in about an hour.