Official: Exercise caution if burning
A series of field fires that went out of control last Wednesday kept city and township firefighters hopping.
One fire was reported in extreme southeastern Tonganoxie, while three others were in rural areas of the county. Those rural fires claimed two outbuildings, as well as an old barn.
Chuck Magaha, director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management, said last week's fires underscore the need to take care when burning fields or tree lines.
"When people get a burn permit, they still need to take the responsibility that a burn permit requires more than just striking a match," said Magaha, who also is a volunteer firefighter with Fairmount Township.
He said it's important to have enough people available to monitor the fire.
"You need an adequate water supply on hand to control your burn," he said. "You need to know how to conduct your burn. And last but not least, you need to monitor the weather conditions."
Last Wednesday, for example, winds kicked up in the afternoon, following a fairly calm morning.
The first fire was reported at 320 Rogers Road, which is a rural area in the city of Tonganoxie. Homeowners had obtained a burn permit to clear vegetation along a fence line. The fire got out of hand about 1:25 p.m., and firefighters from the city of Tonganoxie, as well as Stranger and Tonganoxie townships responded.
While firefighters were working that fire, which rekindled about 3:30 p.m., Alexandria Township firefighters were called to a grass fire in the 23800 block of 219th Street, northwest of Jarbalo. Tonganoxie, Delaware and Union township firefighters also responded.
That fire destroyed a shed and damaged a barn on property rented by John Cleavinger.
Cleavinger's mother, Selma, estimated the barn was nearly 100 years old. But it was in disrepair before the fire.
Her husband, Bob, said the fire was set to remove small cedar trees from nearby fields. They thought the fire was out and left for lunch, but when they returned to the field, the blaze had rekindled.
About 3 p.m., another fire which started when trash was being burned went out of control on 139th Street, just north of Parallel. An outbuilding was destroyed in that blaze, which was answered by firefighters from Fairmount and Delaware townships, as well as Kansas City, Kan.
And about 3:50 p.m. firefighters from Fairmount, Sherman and Stranger townships were called to 158th Street and Evans Road, where a field fire got out of hand.
"There were 200 acres in the area, but probably 50 to 75 acres were involved," said Magaha, who responded to that blaze with other Fairmount firefighters. "It stretched out and spread out."