Area Wildfires Worry Firefighters

Area Wildfires Worry Firefighters
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Fires that spread in parts of Southeast Kansas and Northern Oklahoma are under control.

Fighting them is one thing. But for many it’s a waiting game.

There’s at least two large wild fires within a half hour of the Coffeyville Fire Department, but Captain Kent Bastian is staying put.

“We have two trucks down in Oklahoma right now. Grass rig and an engine helping them out down there,” Bastian said. “But we also have to keep apparatus and manpower for here.”

The Coffeyville Fire Department always keeps a minimum of 5 firefighters ready in the city, even when they’re lending help, like now in Bartlesville.

“I mean we’ve got 5 people in here on overtime right now,” Bastian said. “And we’ll cover until they’re released down there.”

Other than staying prepared for fires in the city, Montgomery County Emergency Management Dir. Jim Miller says in these circumstances, it’s also about being ready if a situation gets out of control.

“There’s fires coming out of Oklahoma, there’s fires in Montgomery county, there’s fires all around us,” Miller said.

The lack of humidity and nearly 60-mile per hour gusts of wind make a combustible combination. To Coffeyville’s South, a fire in Bartlesville. To it’s North, a fire outside of Independence. Both with potential to spread.

“This is a little extreme,” Miller said. “But it’s common this time of the year, with the relative humidity so low.”

Coffeyville should stay fire-free if the wind dies down. Until then, it’s a waiting game. Whether another town or county needs help. Or it’s Coffeyville asking for assistance.

“We have to protect the city,” Bastian said. “However we will respond mutual aid to anyone that asks, if we can.”

We’re told that fire near Independence is under control after spanning roughly 1,500 acres, destroying 300 bales of hay and a barn.

Firefighters are trying to prevent any pop-ups and tell us there shouldn’t be any public concern.