11 a.m. Thursday update
Riley County officials say a powerline that was struck by a fallen tree limb sparked a grass fire Wednesday in a rural area northwest of Manhattan.
The fire scorched an estimated 400 acres in a wooded area near Keats along Hidden Valley Road. More than two dozen firefighters from Riley County Fire District No. 1, the Manhattan Fire Department and Fort Riley Fire spent more than four hours bringing the fire under control. One residence had to be temporarily evacuated for safety, but county officials say no structures or livestock were lost. No injuries were reported.
“Steep, rocky terrain, extremely dry fuels, and strong winds made this a difficult fire to control,” Deputy Fire Chief Doug Russell said in a Thursday news release. “We would get one area extinguished and flying ember would ignite and create another head fire downwind. Thanks to the quick response from multiple agencies, we were able to attack the fire quickly and keep it from spreading to homes.”
Earlier on Wednesday county fire crews responded to a rekindled brush pile in an area near Baldwin Park Road in northern Riley County that quickly became out of control. The fire was quickly extinguished and burned just a small area, according to county officials. No structures were lost and no injuries were reported.
“With dry conditions and winds gusting to 45 mph, this fire could have been catastrophic,” Russell said.
Crews returned to both burned areas Thursday morning to ensure there were no rekindles.
Burn bans remain area wide. Russell says they expect dangerous fire conditions to continue and remains hopeful any moisture collected can ease some of that fire danger.
Original story 6 a.m. Thursday
More than 400 acres burned Wednesday in a grass fire northwest of Manhattan.
Riley County Fire District No. 1 was dispatched around 3:30 p.m. to the 2500 block of Hidden Valley Road in the Keats area. Mutual aid was provided by Fort Riley and Manhattan Fire Departments and as of late last evening it was more than 70 percent contained. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this point.
Fire crews also contained a separate fire in the area of Baldwin Creek Road and Tuttle Creek Blvd Wednesday afternoon, the result of a rekindled brush pile.
Firefighters battled through wind gusts as high as 45 mph. A Wind Advisory remains in place area wide through 1 a.m. Friday.