Labette Community College Annual Fire School

Photo by April Lubbers

Labette Community College hosts an annual fire school held each May and/or June (see Calendar of Events) for firefighters throughout Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The Kansas State Firefighters Association, Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute (KU), and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, as well as other agencies, provide the instructors.

Course offerings are updated each year. LCC’s Fire Science Advisory Board meets annually to make the selections.

Listed below are samples of the types of courses offered during this event that runs May 31, June 1 & 2, 2018:

Live House Burn
Driving Simulator Training
First In Decisions for First-In Officers
Where Your Bugle Starts

Incident Safety Officer
Stress Awareness, Management & Mitigation Training
Hazmat IQ ToxMedic
Honor Guard

For more info


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KSFFA Regional Fire School – June – Greeley County

KSFFA Regional Fire School
Hosted by Greeley County Fire Department
June 2-3, 2018
Location: 400 W. Lawrence St., Tribune, KS


Saturday – June 2 – 8 a.m.

  1. Skills Trailer – 8 hr. – Bunker gear & SCBA
  2. Firefighter Safety & Suvival – 8 hrs. – Bunker gear & SCBA
  3. Basic Rope Rescue – 8 hrs.
  4. Chief Officers – 8 hrs.
  5. FRA

Sunday – June 3 – 8 a.m.

  1. Propane Safety – 4 hrs.
  2. Firefighter Rehab – 4 hrs.
  3. Oil Tank Battery Fires – 4 hrs.
  4. Lessons Learned – 4 hrs.
  5. Building Structure/Structure Collapse – 4 hrs.

Sunday – June 3 – NOON

  1. KSFFA Burn Trailer – Bunker gear & SCBA

Motel – Barrel Springs Hunt Club – 620-376-2701

For more info call Mitch Wilcox – 620-376-8672

  • These courses are offered at no charge.
  • These schools are open to all firefighters/EMS
  • The KSFFA furnishes medical insurance for all participants.
  • The KSFFA is not responsible for lost or damaged clothing or equipment.
  • If you desire to have Firefighter One or Two testing, this must be pre-registered through Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute.
  • The KSFFA offers fit testing with its porta-count machine at all regional fire school.


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Cooperative effort could lead to fire science class

By Robert Pierce
Liberal First – May 25, 2018

Fire departments throughout the region are lacking in workers, and a program will soon be available at Liberal High School to help train workers for both the Liberal and Seward County fire departments, as well as those in other parts of the country.

“We are extremely excited at Liberal High School to be offering for our students next year a fire science program and the opportunity to gain their credentials to become firefighters,” LHS Principal Ashley Kappelmann said Wednesday at a joint meeting between several local entities.

Kappelmann credited LHS teacher Wes Fox with much of the work to get the project off the ground.

“Mr. Fox has worked very hard with the city, and we’ve also been in discussions with the county as well on what the programs look like,” she said.

Kappelmann also praised the work of Seward County Community College for collaboration on the program as well as the Liberal Fire Department.

“The city fire department has been amazing to help us get this going and guide us in the right direction,” she said. “We’ve had the opportunity to meet with the college and the high school, along with the county, to talk about what programs what we’re doing and basically how this is a service back to our community to be able to provide and train workers that we desperately need in Liberal.”

Fox, who is a volunteer firefighter with the LFD, talked about the training needed to become an instructor in fire science.

“You have to have a Firefighter I certification, fire science or a Fire Instructor I certification,” he said. “They worked with me over the last year to get these certifications that I have to have.”

Fox said those who take advantage of the fire science course will get a great benefit.

“It’s a good career, and it’s a good choice for students,” he said. “Not everyone intends to go to college. There’s plenty of careers and opportunities out there for students. They may not have a direction or a purpose or even know what’s available to them.”

Fox emphasized the demand for firefighters in the region.

“There’s openings in both departments here in town,” he said. “There’s openings all through Western Kansas. There’s openings in Oklahoma, and once the kids get these certifications, it’s a certification they can take with them to California or Texas, New Mexico, anywhere in the country because it’s a national certification.”

Fox said just as with many local businesses and entities, keeping young people in the area is important as well.

“We want to grow our own people, and we want to grow our own people with this as well,” he said.

Liberal Fire Chief Kelly Kirk said he and Seward County Fire Chief Andrew Barkley are looking to get more firefighters to their departments.

“What I hope to get out of this program is employees who will work here in Liberal and stay here in Liberal,” he said. “I’ve been in a hiring position with the Liberal Fire Department since 2000, when I became deputy chief. I’ve been chief for 10 years.”

Kirk said having the fire science program could likely reverse a bad trend for both his department and others like it.

“In my time with the fire department, we’ve had more than 150 employees come and go,” he said. “That’s huge turnover. It’s expensive to the city. It’s expensive to the taxpayers.”

Kirk said the program would likewise mean local education would be available for those who would want to become firefighters.

“I have to take them and direct them to Butler County Community College, Hutchinson Community College, one of the community colleges in the state that offers a fire science program,” he said. “I want them to mature at age 20 before they start making decisions and driving the size of trucks that we drive.”

Kirk said he would like those who come to work for him to have a two-year associates degree and be work ready, and he said the benefits of becoming a firefighter are great.

“These students are looking for roughly 11 credit hours of college credit to be just baseline hireable for a fire department,” he said. “Male or female with an associates degree in fire science could start out with great benefits and $32,000 a year. That’s not a bad gig for someone two years out of high school in a career that he can have for 20, 25, 30 years that’s going to really take care of him. I tell people you won’t get rich, but it’ll be the most rewarding career you’ve ever had. The benefits are great, and the retirement would be great for you in the end. I’m looking for employees, and that’s what this program to me will provide.”

Kirk said when youth finish the fire science program, they should be ready for the workforce in the firefighting field.

“They’re hireable for me and Chief Barkley,” he said. “They’re hireable for any other Western Kansas town. They’re usually Kansas kids who were born and bred and more likely to stay here than a kid who comes here from Montana and goes back home after two years.”

Kirk said the program is beneficial to the city, the county, the school district and SCCC, just four of the seven entities represented at Wednesday’s joint meeting at Eisenhower Middle School.

Seward County Administrator April Warden attended some of the meetings to plan out the fire science program, and she said she liked what she saw.

“I saw how well everybody worked together from the college,” she said. “I don’t think anybody realizes the time they put into it with the work to get everything through the different agencies to make it happen, and it was awesome to see it come together.”


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Companies give $3,755 to fire department

By Brooke Haas
McPherson Sentinel – May 25, 2018

Photo by Nichole Gouldie

As McPherson County a strong rural community, the McPherson Fire Department also serves area farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.

Deputy Chief T.J. Wyssmann, of the fire department, said in the 16 years he has worked there they have conducted three grain bin rescues.

“This type of technical rescue takes specialized equipment, which is called a cofferdam — or a grain bin rescue tube. Once we get the gear around a victim… inside of the grain bin, we then put an auger inside the bin and remove the product,” Wyssmann said.

This type of equipment can cost around $3,500 Wyssmann said.

Thanks to Mid Kansas Coop, of Moundridge, and PrarieLand Partners in McPherson, the department will be able to purchase the equipment. The two companies gave $1,887 each, which came out to $3,755 total.

“It’s tremendous not just for the city of McPherson, but also for our contracted areas and the county. That’s a big deal for us. For us to go on these types of rescues county-wide or even into other counties — it’s just tremendous. To have that type of support and for those companies to see the need and reach out to us — it’s an awesome thing to see,” Wyssmann said.

“Before being able to purchase this equipment, we had a makeshift cofferdam. We built our own with plywood. We called fire departments that were 30 minutes away to see if they could bring their equipment.”

“Both MKC and PrairieLand Partners work with farmer customers across the area. This is about providing lifesaving tools for the benefit of farmers, our customers,” said Nichole Gouldie, communications and brand manager at MKC.

“We feel like we have a responsibility to support or local community and this is a product that has a direct impact on our customers,” said Kelly Pitts, store manager at PrairieLand Partners.

Because of the high cost of the equipment, Wyssmann said the department made do with what they had because they didn’t want to tax the community even more.

“This would not be possible without those businesses donating that money.

This would not have been possible to purchase without having to increase taxes and do things of that nature — it makes it really easy for us to do our jobs when these businesses participate,” Wyssmann said.

Grain bin rescues can be extremely dangerous for both the victim and the rescuer. When someone falls into a grain bin, the grain quickly surrounds the victim and can suffocate them, which causes them to lose blood flow.

“When people fall into grain bins, they don’t just fall straight down into the grain, usually their legs are in an awkward position, which is what we found in a previous rescue. The cofferdam helps keep the pressure off the victim so they can breathe, which is the most important thing… We want to be able to introduce blood flow slowly back into the body.”

“This donation allows the local fire department to stretch their budget and have equipment available to provide quick responses in the case of a grain entrapment. We hope the equipment is never needed, but in the case that it is, we feel much better knowing local emergency personnel have the equipment to help in a rescue,” Gouldie said.


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Olathe program prepares next generation of first responders

By Andres Gutierrez
KSHB – May 25, 2018

Photo by Andres Gutierrez


As the school year wraps up at Olathe West High School, so is the first year of the Public Safety Academy.

“I want to just help protect the streets of Kansas City,” Libbie Winkleman, a freshman, said.

Winkleman and her friend, Kamri Brooks, are among 75 students who are interested in pursuing a career as a firefighter, EMT, or in law enforcement.

“When I was going into the program, a lot of people were surprised. They didn’t think I wanted to go into law enforcement,” Brooks told 41 Action News.

From its inception, the academy has had strong community partnerships.

Members of the Olathe police and fire departments sit on the advisory board and mentor students.

“Those connections are going to help these students in the future gain employment in those agencies,” Jeff Van Dyke, one of the instructors, said.

Nathan Barthol, whose parents work for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, realizes the realities of his future profession in the current climate.

“People are watching our shoulders. If we make a mistake, just like that, it really ruins your life, so we have to be able to properly train and practice, practice, practice over and over again,” Barthol said.

“By the time they get to their academy when they’re in their early 20s, they’ll have more background in officer safety, investigative skills, and also how to deal with the public,” Van Dyke said.

They’re also equipping these young men and women with practical skills.

“Really how to be a better leader, how to listen, and all these skills, even if you’re not going into–if you decide after this academy that you don’t want to be a first responder, you still need these life skills,” Barthol said.

For more information on the Public Safety Academy, visit:


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County officials considering incentives for volunteer firefighters

By Stephanie Casanova
Manhattan Mercury – May 24, 2018

Riley County officials are considering ways to compensate volunteer firefighters and volunteer first responders to increase the number of volunteers.

Pat Collins, emergency management director, raised the issue with Riley County commissioners during their Thursday meeting.

Collins said other volunteer fire departments have started to provide incentives like per-call stipends and training incentives like a stipend increase.

“When I started years ago, there was a line of people that would step up and help protect everybody, neighbor’s property,” Collins said. “And that’s, across the nation it’s declining. There’s not that kind of participation in volunteer systems now and if you look across the nation, across Kansas, a lot of the agencies have some form of reimbursement they’re providing for their volunteers.”

Collins said last year volunteer firefighters put in about 6,000 hours of training. He said he’s met with Cindy Volanti, Riley County Human Resource manager, to talk about the possibility of offering volunteers some form of incentive.

Commissioners agreed that Collins should move forward in discussing the costs involved with paying firefighters a per-call stipend or other incentives. Collins said he anticipates the stipends will cost $41,000 per year.

“I don’t think that anybody is going to get rich doing this,” Collins said.

Commissioner Ron Wells said something has to change soon because the county will likely continue to see a decline in volunteers as people’s lives get busier.

“At some point, if we have a fire and don’t have anybody show up that’s going to set the parameters right there,” Wells said.


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Video shows JoCo firefighters battling house fire as live ammunition ignites inside structure

KSHB – May 24, 2018


Video released by Fire District #1 of Johnson County, Kansas shows crews battling a blazing house fire in Gardner on Tuesday.

Crews responded to the fire at about 8:35 p.m. on the 100 block of S. Pine Street.

The occupants made it out safely, including a dog, but they advised live ammunition was still inside the home, which can be heard going off in the first few minutes of the video.

Crews managed to attack the fire from outside the home and then get it under control enough so if could be fought from inside.

Officials did not say if they have determined a cause of the fire.


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Merle Dean Bruner

Merle Dean Bruner was born August 19, 1933, in Hillsboro, the son of Cecil and Virgil “Virgie” (Westerman) Bruner. He was raised in Marion along with his sister Genevieve “Sis.” Merle enlisted into the Army in 1953. On Feb. 12, 1956, he was united in marriage to the love of his life, Nova Bredemeier. Their union was blessed with two daughters, Cristi and Cathy.

Merle was a diesel mechanic by trade. When their daughters were young, they would spend their weekends at 81 Speedway. He raced a car one time, and Nova decided she could not handle him racing and she told him he could only work on the cars and not race them. He had a love of all things racing, especially midget and sprint cars.

In the late ’70s, following his retirement as a mechanic, he and Nova made their home in Marion, where they ran a jewelry store. Later, he was superintendent for the city of Marion for 24 years. Merle enjoyed being a volunteer fire chief for many years until he retired.

After retirement, he could be seen waiting in the car for Nova to get done shopping or sitting in the bleachers at his grandkids’ ball games. Upon the death of Nova in Nov. 2012, he was able to stay at and enjoy their home until July 2017 when he moved to Marion Assisted Living, where he made new friends and caught up with old ones.

Merle was called home to be with Nova on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Nova; his parents, Cecil and Virgil; his sister, Genevieve “Jenny”; and an infant brother, Quentin.

Merle is survived by his two daughters, Cristi Soyez and husband, Frank, of Cedar Point, Kansas; and Cathy Cleeton and husband, Rick, of Marion, Kansas; grandchildren, Melanie Grimmett and husband, Tyson; Ashley Hoffman and husband, Jeff; Sara Miller and husband, Steven; Jenile Taylor and husband, Mike; Brent Cleeton and wife, Sequoia; and Amanda Brown; 11 great-grandchildren, Bethany and Heidi Grimmett; Jagger and Jettlyn Miller; Shannon, Quentin, Jaseson, and Kolemon Taylor; Hagen Gardner; and Ayden and Kasen Brown.

Merle will be missed by all who knew and loved him. We take comfort he is with our Mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma.


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Brown Joins Fire District #3

Rose Hill Reporter – May 3, 2018
Submitted by Newz Group – May 23, 2018

There is a new face under Fire Helmet 313 at Butler County Fire District #3 and that would be Joe Brown. He holds one of the five full-time positions at the station and replaces former firefighter Dan Harshbarger.

Brown came on board in March as a rookie having never been a firefighter before. “I am very grateful to Fire Chief Jim Woydziak for taking a chance with me,” said Brown.

He was literally baptized in fire on his first day. “I had only been in the station for two minutes when a fire dispatch came in. They suited me up in short order and I jumped on board and away I went to my first house fire,” said Brown. His most harrowing experience during his short tenure was rolling up on a suicide after it happened.

He may be new to firefighting but he is not inexperienced. Brown was an active duty E5 Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force and saw two tours of duty in Afghanistan. He was also in the Kansas Air National Guard for the last three years.

Firefighting was chosen as his new career because he wanted to be in a position to help people and he wanted it to involve a uniform. To Brown, the uniform symbolizes a trusted individual who can be relied on to act in any situation for the good of the people. He is also an emergency medical technician.

The best thing about the job for Brown is the personnel. “They are a good group of people to work with, we are a family here and I like that comradery,” said Brown. “I am 100 percent dedicated to firefighting.”

Brown lives in Wichita with his wife Ashley, two cats and a rabbit. In his leisure time he is at the gym, does a little video gaming and enjoys a good movie.


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Hesston Firefighter Retires After 38 Years Of Service

By Jacquelyn Nelson
Hesston Record – May 3, 2018
Submitted by Newz Group – May 23, 2018

Brian Reimer turned in his pager after serving 38 years as a volunteer for the Hesston Fire Department.

In the fall of 1979, Reimer, along with the current Fire/EMS Director Russ Buller and Jon Friesen, joined the emergency response team in Hesston as teenagers.

“I started out on the fire department and then joined EMS. At some point I quit EMS and stayed strictly on the fire side. I was encouraged by a couple other friends of mine who were doing it. I enjoyed it and I enjoyed helping people,” said Reimer.

Buller chose to make a career of small-town emergency response, taking over the Hesston department.

“Brian, Jon Friesen and I went to high school together and had an interest in emergency response. Jon was the first to sign up and then myself and Brian were soon to follow. It was an amazing experience to work with my good friends doing something we were all passionate about. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work my entire career with Brian,” said Buller.

Reimer said when he turned in his pager earlier this month, “I just felt like it was time.”

Reimer has helped Hesston through some of its toughest times – from the 1990 tornado to the Kropf Lumber fire. However, he said there were every-day accidents and calls that have stuck with him.

“Some of the drunks…You wonder, ‘How did they survive that accident,’ “ he said.

One of the most memorable calls was to the off-ramp of I-135 onto Lincoln Boulevard, a man lying outside his vehicle unconscious.

“I’ve only ran one of these in my entire career. … We got there and he was code blue [no pulse] and we did CPR. He woke up and he said, ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing that? It hurts. Stop!’ and we’d stop and he’d pass out and be gone, no pulse. We would do CPR again, he’d come back and talk to you. That was an odd call. You don’t see that every day,” Reimer said.

Through days when calls were difficult, or on stressful scenes, Reimer gave immense credit to his colleagues who were fighting fires alongside him.

“You really rely on your coworkers. You watch out for your partners. Your adrenaline is going crazy and you’re doing things left and right. I have people that just stop for a second, take a deep breath, and do it this way. After a time, you learn to take a deep breath and work through it,” said Reimer.

Coming up through the department together, Buller said he relied on Reimer during some of the most stressful calls to provide leadership and calm.

“Brian has been an amazing tactical officer. There isn’t anyone I would rather have working a fire scene than Brian. He has both the practical knowledge and the common sense that gets the fire out and it stays out. He also proved to always be extremely considerate of a fire victim’s property, going the second mile to make sure that it is protected from further damage and secure after the fire is extinguished,” he said.

Reimer said there were times when his mental was tested, but he always was able to find the will to carry on.

“I never thought I’d be able to go into a burning house and do what I did. That can be pretty unnerving having the gear and mask on and go into a building where you can’t see your hand in front of your face and being able to stay calm and rely on training you’ve done. I didn’t know if I’d have that in me to do that,” he said.

Through the years and thousands of calls, Reimer said even at the end of his time as a volunteer he still got an adrenaline spike when the pager went off.

“Once you get into the call – there’s 100 things going through your mind when a page goes out – once you get there, all those things calm down and you just do what you have to do,” he said.

However, Reimer said calls on the interstate continued to unnerve him.

“We run a lot of calls on the interstate and when it’s icy, those were kind of scary, standing on the highway with trucks going by at 50 to 60 miles and hour and it’s icy,” he said.

Reimer said one of the greatest improvements he has enjoyed over the years is the safety of responders. Early in his career, Reimer recalled catching a ride on the back of a fire truck on the way to a fire scene in frigid weather.

“We went to a house fire that was seven or eight miles west of town. There were two of us on the back of the truck, and it was really cold and windy. We crawled on top of the truck and got behind the cab and huddled up behind the cab to try to stay warm,” he said.

Today, such rides would never happen.

From an equipment standpoint, Reimer said today’s firefighters are better protected than ever.

“We’d have boots that came up to our thighs, a coat and our hat would have flaps we would pull down over our ears to keep them from getting too hot. Now they have bunker pants, a coat, helmet, hood. Today’s equipment is just so much better,” he said.

With thousands of volunteer hours logged, Reimer has received not only training, but hands-on experience with nearly every situation imaginable.

“The different types of training that we do now a days compared to what we did when I started. We’d sit on the back of the fire trucks, discuss a few things and be there for an hour and a half and go home. Now, it’s every bit of three hours of training,” he said.

Buller said the loss of that institutional and situational knowledge will be keenly felt.

“Brian brought 38 years of experience as a volunteer with Hesston and 33 years of full-time service with Newton Fire/EMS. That much background and knowledge is irreplaceable. His retirement will be felt for many years in our organization,” he said.

Even after officially leaving the department, Reimer said he is now working on forgetting decades of muscle memory.

“It feels kind of odd [not having a pager.] I’d always check, if I do something at work, I’d reach to make sure I didn’t lose my pager and I don’t have that anymore. In the last number of years, they started sending texts, and I don’t get those texts anymore.

“After 38 years, I’d still like to hear what’s going on. Maybe in six months to a year, OK, I’m good with it. But you can’t just drop it and walk away. You still wonder what’s going on when you hear sirens,” he said.

However, as Reimer left the department, he still encouraged others to step up and protect Hesston.

“There are tons of classes out there that you can take. Join a department. We do a lot of in-house training and we’ve had a lot of people that have come through as young kids and they end up going on to working full time for a department,” he said.

As for why Reimer remained so loyal to the Hesston department, “I just enjoyed it. I loved being a part of an organization like that. I enjoyed helping people out,” he said.


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1 dead, 1 hospitalized after van rolls in SW Kansas

Hays Post – May 23, 2018

One person died in an accident just before 7p.m. Tuesday in Kiowa County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2007 Chevy Uplander Van driven by Larry Dale Stamper, Jr., 47, Enid, OK., was northbound on 17th Avenue.

The vehicle traveled off the right side of the road. The driver overcorrected crossed the road, entered the west ditch and rolled.

Stamper was transported to Bucklin Hospital where he died. A passenger Laura Kay Stamper, 28, Enid, was transported to Kiowa County Hospital. They were not wearing seat belts, according to the KHP.


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House Fire Claims Beloved Pet

Gardner Edge – May 23, 2018

Fire District 1 responded to a house fire in the 100 block of South Pine Street on the evening of May 22. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but the house was quickly enveloped. The fire was quickly doused by the fire department. The resident is safe, but his beloved dog, Chief, wasn’t so fortunate.


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Johnson County emergency crews practice trench rescue skills

By Melissa Stern
FOX 4 – May 23, 2018


Several emergency crews from Johnson County spent hours out in the heat, practicing their skills Tuesday.

They want to make sure they know exactly what needs to happen if they’re every called to rescue someone from a trench. They know every second matters.

“It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it`s very dangerous for the person. Soil is very heavy, it constricts their ability to breathe, and actually profuse oxygen and nutrients through their blood,” said Brian Montgomery, an apparatus operator with Johnson County Consolidated Fire District #2.

They take this training seriously because each person here knows they may be called to help save someone’s life at any time.

“Accidents happen. When a hole has been open for a long amount of time, it gets susceptible to cave in,” Montgomery explained.

The challenge is finding locations to practice, getting decent weather, and fitting it into everyone`s schedule.

“It`s something you want to keep your skills up to date, so when it does happen, you`re not trying to remember, ‘how do we do this? How do we do that?’ It`s fresh in your mind,” Montgomery said.

“You need to make sure that those things are trained well, your people are prepared, they know what steps need to be taken, they know the safety procedures, and that we can do that process, that doesn`t get done very often, in a manner that`s both safe for the people involved in the rescue and the people we`re rescuing,” said Steve Chick Jr., the training chief at Consolidated Fire District #2 in N.E. Johnson County.

Each shift gets training, so training continues Wednesday and Thursday for different groups.


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Rescuers search Kansas River in KCK after finding capsized boat

By Nick Sloan
KCTV 5 – May 23, 2018

Rescuers from the Kansas City, KS Fire Department searched the Kansas River near the Turner Diagonal after a boat was found capsized.

The water rescue call initially came out around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

After searching for about an hour, it was called off and no one was found.

In a Facebook post from the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office, officials said the fire rescue crews performed “double searchers” along shorelines and the river.

Deputies ran boat numbers and found no records.

It was towed out.


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Crews battle, contain blaze at Hale Library

By Brady Bauman
KMAN – May 23, 2018

Photo by Brady Bauman


A fire at Hale Library on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan kept several fire and EMS crews busy late Tuesday afternoon.

According to K-State news services, the Manhattan Fire Department was responded shortly after 4 p.m. for a call of reported smoke at the library and the building was safely evacuated. By 5:30 p.m. seven different fire departments were battling the blaze.

Riley County EMS Director David Adams told KMAN no injuries were reported and the cause is unknown at this time.

No flames were visible, however smoke billowed periodically as crews worked. By 6:24 p.m., K-State officials reported the fire was contained and that it occurred in the northwest part of the original Farrell Library portion of the building.

K-State Vice President for Communications and Marketing Jeffery Morris told Media crews responded to the library within minutes of the first reports of smoke and that the building was undergoing renovations at the time. Construction crews stood outside the building as firefighters attacked the blaze.

The library was in the early stages of a $6.5 million renovation.

The original Farrell Library portion where the fire occurred was built in the 1920s, according to KSU. Today, Hale Library is more than 400,000 square feet and has more than two million books in its collection.


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2 Kansas women dead after rollover accident

Hays Post – May 23, 2018

Two people died in an accident just before 3p.m. Tuesday in Marion County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 1996 Chevy 1500 driven by Rhonda Michelle Hannon, 43, Newton, was northbound on Kansas 15 just south of 150th Road.

The vehicle traveled off the roadway to the right. The driver overcorrected, traveled across the center of the highway into the northbound ditch and rolled.

Hannon and a passenger Christina Renae Miller, 45, Canton, were pronounced dead at the scene. They were not wearing seat belts, according to the KHP.


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Job Opening – Fire Science Instructor – Topeka Center for Advanced Learning & Careers


Fire Science Instructor – Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers


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No chance for ‘goodbye’

By Jason Tidd
Wichita Eagle – May 22, 2018

An 11-year-old cancer survivor was killed when he was run over from behind while riding a mini bike on a Kansas road Sunday afternoon.

Kayden Blaes Samyn, 11, of Mound City, was riding a 49 CC Super Chopper, described in a Kansas Highway Patrol crash report as a mini bike, westbound on 300 Road in Linn County about 7 miles west of Prescott at 1:36 p.m.

Also westbound was a 2004 Chevy Silverado, which struck the miniature motorcycle from behind and drove over it and the boy, the crash report states.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been wearing a helmet and a safety restraint.

The 21-year-old pickup driver from Missouri was not injured.

Kayden was diagnosed in 2013 — when he was 7 years old — with leukemia, a cancer found in blood and bone marrow, states Facebook page Kayden’s Fight.

It was T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia, a rare form of the cancer, the Fort Scott Tribune reported. When Kayden was 8, he was sworn in as an honorary firefighter in Fort Scott.

“I keep hearing that everything happens for a reason,” a post to the Facebook page states. “Maybe the leukemia was coming back and God did not want him to suffer. Maybe the leukemia came in the first place so that we could spend every waking moment on ‘him.’ Maybe there will never be an answer as to why this happened.”

Kayden fought leukemia for nearly four years and beat it, the post said.

“I am not going to request prayers for Kayden, he is with Jesus and was not afraid to die,” the post stated. “He always said he knew grandpa Jesse would be there when and if that time came, we just didn’t ever think we would not be prepared or have a chance to say goodbye.”


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Lightning Causes Barn Fire South of Gorham

By David Elliott
KRSL – May 22, 2018

Photos by Gorham Fire Department

Lightning caused a barn fire early Saturday morning south of Gorham.

According to dispatch logs, at 1:56 AM Saturday, Russell Dispatch received a 911 call reporting a shed on fire at 3536 176th Street, which is about seven miles south of Gorham.

Gorham and Russell Grant Firefighters responded, along with a Russell County Sheriff’s Deputy and Russell County EMS.

Upon arrival, it was determined the structure was an old barn.

The fire was extinguished, rekindled a few hours later and was extinguished again.

According to Gorham Fire Chief Glen Blundon, the barn is a total loss. A swather inside the barn was also destroyed.

There were no injuries.


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Firefighters Respond to Apartment Fire in Russell

By David Elliott
KRSL – May 22, 2018

City of Russell, Russell Grant and Gorham Firefighters responded Monday afternoon to an apartment building fire in Russell.

Firefighters were paged to a structure fire at 312 East Wisconsin Street at approximately 2:40 PM Monday.

The apartment building, formerly known as the Rogg Apartments, was significantly damaged.

The amount of damage and cause of the fire is undetermined according to Russell City Fire Chief Shane Preston and the State Fire Marshal has been contacted for investigation purposes.

According to law enforcement on scene, all the residents got out of the building and there were no injuries.

Along with firefighters, the Russell Police Department, Russell County Sheriff’s Office, Kansas Highway Patrol, Russell County EMS, Russell and Ellsworth County Emergency Management, the Russell Electric and Water Departments, and Rotary Rescue responded.


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SE Kansas child ran over, dies after mini bike accident

WIBW – May 21, 2018

A southeast Kansas child is dead after an accident on a motorized mini bike Sunday.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says Kayden Samyn, 11, of Mound City was killed just after 1:30 p.m.

Officials say Samyn was driving a mini bike west on 300 Road, about 7 miles west of Prescott, KS, when he was struck from behind by a 2004 Chevy Silverado.

Officials say the truck, driven by Robert Brown, 21, of Hume, MO, was also heading west on 300 Road when the accident happened.

Samyn was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials say he was wearing a helmet.


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Kansas firefighter crashes fire truck into tree

KSNT – May 21, 2018

Photo by Columbus Fire Department

A Southeast Kansas firefighter is in the hospital after a medial issue caused him to crash a fire truck into a tree.

According to a Facebook post by Columbus Fire Rescue, the department was responding to a fire call shortly after 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning when a “medical emergency” caused the driver to pass out and hit a tree.

KSNF reports the driver was taken to a Joplin, Mo. hospital for treatment.

Columbus Police Chief Jason Daniels told KSNF he hopes for a swift and full recovery as the Kansas Highway Patrol investigates the crash.


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2 teens dead, 3 hospitalized in SW Kansas crash

Hays Post – May 21, 2018

Two people died in an accident just before 1:30a.m. Sunday in Seward County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 1999 Dodge Durango driven by Rojelio V. Campa, 18, Liberal, was westbound on Bluebell Road. The driver failed to stop at the dead end. The SUV traveled over a concrete curb and entered a divider designed to prevent traffic from entering onto U.S. Highway 54.

As the SUV traveled across the divider, it impacted a large boulder and exited the divider onto U.S. 54. The front end of the SUV impacted the passenger side of a northeast bound 1995 BMW driven by Caleb C. Olson, Tyrone, Oklahoma.

Campa, Olson and passengers in the BMW Austin K. Olson, 18, Collinville, OK; Tyler M. Olson, 20, Tyrone, OK and Conner L. Smith, 20, Tyrone, OK, were transported to the hospital in Liberal.

Austin Olson and Conner Smith died.

The KHP did not have information on whether Caleb Olson was wearing a seat belt. All others were properly restrained at the time of the accident.


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Fire damages Olathe home early Saturday

KMBC – May 21, 2018

Olathe firefighters are trying to determine the cause of a fire that damaged a home early Saturday.

Fire crews were called at 3:30 a.m. to the 21000 block of West 105th Street.

A couple inside the home safely escaped with their two dogs.

No injuries were reported.


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County adds to firefighting fleet

By Robert Pierce
Liberal First – May 21, 2018

The Seward County Fire Department will soon welcome another truck to its growing fleet of firefighting equipment.

The latest vehicle is a 2018 International four-wheel drive fire engine, which Fire Chief Andrew Barkley said will be placed at the Kismet fire station and is fully equipped for the jobs it will perform.

“It’s got a 1,500-gallon water tank and a 1,250-gpm pump on it,” he said. “It’s similar to our engine that’s here in Liberal. It’s set up to do combination work for grass fires, house fires, car wrecks, EMS runs. It carries everything.”

The Seward County Commission gave Barkley the go ahead to purchase the engine at a meeting earlier this month, and the fire chief said the truck should be in Liberal by the week of May 28.

This, Barkley said, leaves the fire department in good shape in terms of its fleet.

“We’ll have two new engines, one in Liberal, one in Kismet,” he said. “We have the new tanker here in Liberal. We have the tanker in Kismet. This will get us to a place now where we have multi-purpose trucks instead of one truck for one job and another truck for another job. We’re getting there. We’re on the right path, and hopefully, when we’re done with the lease purchases on these two trucks, we can turn around and get another engine and a tanker and have one at each station.”

With newer model equipment, Barkley said this should mean little in the need for more equipment for the next few years.

“God willing, nothing happens, and we should be looking pretty good,” he said. “I think in the next five years to six years, you’ll look at towards the end of that time frame, us replacing command vehicles. Engines and apparatus will be probably closer to 10 years out before we buy anything else.”

The fire department has a new 3,000-gallon tanker in its fleet, a truck from the Kansas Forest Service that doubles as a truck for grass fires and a tanker with a 2,500-gallon capacity at the Cimarron station and a 2,500-gallon tanker that can also serve as a brush truck in Kismet.

The newest member of the firefighting fleet is a manufactured unit, running at a price of just less than $300,000, from the South Dakota-based company, Rosenbauer Fire Apparatus. Money for the truck will come from the department’s equipment fund for the lease purchase.

Along with new trucks, Seward County firefighters recently took part in a training offered by natural gas supplier Black Hills Energy to improve skills for fighting natural gas fires.

Barkley said both the trucks and the training are beginning to show some improvement in the efficiency of his department.

“I think with the training with Black Hills, what we look forward to when they do it every few years is it’s an opportunity for our personnel and the city personnel to come together,” he said. “They work in teams together and learned the different effects of natural gas fires. For us having new personnel in the department, this is their first time going. It was really a great experience for them to go in there with an instructor, with the veteran guys that had done it before and learn how to use their water streams to push the heat away from them, to get to control valves and how all that operates. It’s pretty good. We enjoy doing it every few years because it gives us an opportunity to really train for a few hours with the city.”

Barkley said fire department officials work on a train schedule with each new year, and standard trainings take place typically on the second Saturday of each month.

“The training material’s based on the stuff we do to stay proficient, whether it be grass fires, motor vehicle accidents, structure fires, extrication, EMS calls,” he said. “Our training all year is based on those things, and sometimes, we will do it one month and three months later, do it again. That’s just to stay proficient, but we get an opportunity from time to time to go out with Conestoga Energy, do trainings at their facility. We get to do different walk throughs in different places. That right there helps us with our awareness and to know what to expect when we arrive on scene.”

Recent rains have slowed the number of fires in the area, but Barkley said he still urges caution with blazes.

“We’re still in the time of year when we can have red flag warnings and critical fire dangers,” he said. “The drought’s still very much here. We’ve been getting a little bit here and there of rain, but it’s not enough to make a big impact. The other day, we had a pump engine backfire on an irrigation well, and it burned green grass. We’re nowhere near being out of the danger, but hopefully soon, we’ll get some moisture and get it rolling.”


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Will fire science program find a facility?

By Elly Grimm
Liberal First – May 21, 2018

The school year may be done, but there is still a lot of work to be done by the USD 480 school board during its next meeting Monday evening beginning at 6:30.

Up first for the board will be discussion of a Fire Science Program facility request.

“Over the course of the 2017-2018 school year, Wes Fox, a teacher at Liberal High School through collaboration with Liberal City Fire Department, Seward County Fire Department, and Seward County Community College in helping fill and sustain a need not only in the Liberal community, but the region,” a memo with the agenda information noted.

“Currently, there are an estimated 200 full time firefighter openings west of Wichita that serve the communities of Central and Western Kansas. Realizing this unique opportunity, Mr. Fox and members of all three organizations began exploring options to create a Fire Science program to educate, train, and prepare students to pass the Firefighter I certification. Through the diligence of the team and support from the USD 480 Board of Education, Fire Science will now be offered through Liberal High School with a continued partnership with Seward County Community College beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. Students who are participating in the program will be completing over 200 competencies in addition to practicals that will be necessary to achieve certification including preparation for the certification tests.”


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Woman killed, 3 hurt in crash near Derby

KWCH – May 21, 2018

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office says a 90-year-old woman died and three people, — two in their 80s — received minor injuries in a two-vehicle crash near Derby Friday evening.

A Sedgwick County Sheriff’s lieutenant says the crash involved a Buick Lacrosse and a Suzuki, driven by a 30-year-old man who also received minor injuries.

The 90-year-old woman was a backseat passenger in the Buick driven by an 88-year-old man. The other person hurt in the crash was an 85-year-old woman, also a passenger in the Buick.

The lieutenant says it appears the Buick pulled in front of the Suzuki to turn into a driveway.


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Farmhouse at Sixth Street and Queens Road to provide unique opportunity for firefighter training

By Libby Stanford
Lawrence Journal World – May 18, 2018

Photo by Chad Lawhorn

An old farmhouse will be put to new use as a rare training opportunity for firefighters on Saturday.

The event will begin with refresher training on Saturday morning and move into dramatic real-life scenarios throughout the day.

The farmhouse, located at the southeast intersection of Sixth Street and Queens Road, proved to be a unique space for the training, said Dennis Snodgrass, chief of the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Department, who organized the event. The house has features, like a basement and multiple stories, that aren’t generally found in other training facilities.

The house will be smoked out to simulate realistic conditions. Firefighters will be trained on basement extrication, second-story window extrication and rescuing downed firefighters.

“[The house] gives us the opportunity to breach walls and take people out,” Snodgrass said. “We’ll have entanglement props. We’ll have low-profile props. We’re going to have a lot of different scenarios that will test the ability of the team to do what they need to do.”

The Douglas County Rapid Intervention Team is hosting and participating in the event. They are a group dedicated to saving firefighters in danger. Most firefighter training facilities have only one entrance and exit. The farmhouse provides the rare opportunity to get in and get out using multiple techniques.

“We’ll cut walls, we’ll cut windows in the doorways. We basically destroy stuff to get in and out as quickly as we can,” said Snodgrass, who is the founder of the Douglas County Rapid Intervention Team. “It’s just an incredible opportunity for us because we can actually train the way that we would actually work on the scene.”

The farmhouse has had renovations and additions over the years that add to its uniqueness, Snodgrass said.

“Those are things that we run into out in the county all the time,” he said. “People have done additions, and we go to breach a wall that turns out to be a brick wall on the inside. This house is going to give us some very realistic training opportunities. That is absolutely invaluable to what we do.”

What’s left of the farmhouse will be demolished after the training, and upscale townhomes will be built on the property. The training was a “unique opportunity” because the farmhouse needs to be demolished anyway, said Robert Wilson, the Lawrence businessman who owns the property.

“The demolition of the property isn’t just a demolition,” Snodgrass said. “It’s actually contributing to the safety of the public and the firefighters by allowing the training to be done on it.”

Wakarusa Township Fire Department, Clinton Township Fire Department, Baldwin City Fire Department and the Willow Springs Fire Department will be participating in the training.


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No injuries in northeast Wichita house fire

KAKE – May 18, 2018

No one was hurt after a house caught fire in northeast Wichita on Friday afternoon.

Crews were called at around 2 p.m. to a house fire in the 1500 block of North Holyoke, near 13th and Hillside. Battalion Chief Scott Brown said a neighbor walking her dog saw smoke and flames emanating from the three-story home and called 911.

Crews arrived to find heavy fire involvement on the second and third floors.

“We got reports that there may be an elderly man that lived in the basement, so we dedicated lot of crews to search,” Brown said. “Found out nobody was home at the time. Nobody was hurt.”

The fire was under control in about 15 minutes. Brown said the house had been divided into three or four apartments.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and a damage estimate has yet to be determined.


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Fire destroys mobile home

Abilene Reflector Chronicle – May 18, 2018

Photo by Abilene Fire Department

An early morning fire destroyed a mobile home and its contents Friday.

Abilene Fire Chief Bob Sims said firefighters were called at 5 a.m. to 501 N. Brady, lot 115.

The mobile home was completely engulfed when firefighters arrived.

The home had been occupied by Rebecca Bedland, her father and daughter. One occupant was treated for possible smoke inhalation.

Sims estimated the loss of the mobile home, owned by James Stout, Jr., to be between $8,000 and $10,000.

Sims said the American Red Cross was assisting the family.


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Dousing saves barn from farm lot inferno

By Mary Meyers
Atchison Daily Globe – April 23, 2018
Submitted by Newz Group – May 18, 2018

Photo by Mary Meyers

Atchison County volunteer firefighters responded to the scene of a possible barn fire mid-afternoon Monday south of Atchison.

Mt. Pleasant Fire Chief Charlie Cline said the Mt. Pleasant Fire District No. 4 and Shannon Fire District No. 1 firefighters were paged out at 3:46 p.m. to 4384 Phillips Road and managed to extinguish the blaze before it reached the barn. Cline attributed the cause to a trash fire that went out of control.

The house, barn and multiple out-buildings went unscathed, but numerous logs were burnt. The charred logs were separated and lay strewn atop the burnt grass in the pasture. Cline said the logs will be left on their own to burn out.

David August is the property owner. Curtis Larrison is the resident.

While on the scene the firefighters hosed down the grassy area and the nearby buildings before they left the scene. Atchison County Emergency Management and Walnut Township Fire District representatives also responded.


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Fire displaces Iraq veteran

By Mary Meyers
Atchison Globe – May 2, 2018
Submitted by Newz Group – May 18, 2018

A rural Cummings woman is displaced after her home was destroyed by a weekend fire and deemed a total loss.

Joelen “Jo” Ricketts was not at home when fire engulfed her mobile residence at 13266 242nd Road, Sheriff Jack Laurie reported to the Globe.

Ricketts, an Iraq War veteran, said although she lost her personal belongings, her pet dog and cat escaped injury. The fire did singe the cat’s whiskers, Ricketts said.

“I am humbled by all the support I’ve gotten,” Ricketts said in a May 1 phone interview.

Ricketts said she is able to temporarily reside in the neighborhood at her boyfriend Randy Schmalstieg’s residence, but is currently looking for property to relocate to and call her own on a more permanent basis, where she can reside and tend to her livestock.

“It has been very overwhelming,” Ricketts said of her unexpected ordeal.

The incident was reported about 1 a.m. April 28 by a neighboring family member, who Ricketts identified as her sister-in-law, Tammy Ricketts.

Chief Kenny Frost, Nortonville Fire District, said volunteer firefighters from Nortonville Fire District No. 12 were in command at the scene of the structure fire. Lancaster Fire District No. 5 and Mt. Pleasant Fire District No. 4 volunteers also responded to assist as mutual aid.

Frost and Laurie agreed the fire was accidental in nature due to an electrical cause. Laurie reported the fire originated in a back bedroom and there is no criminal investigation.

Firefighters remained on the scene until 5 a.m. until Kansas State Fire Marshal authorities arrived, Frost said. The Fire Marshal concurred with the preliminary findings that the ignition was electrical. Ricketts trailer was located in the Pardee community.


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Russell County EMS Receives Hansen Grant for AEDs

By David Elliott
KRSL – May 18, 2018

Russell County EMS recently received a Dane G. Hansen Foundation grant to purchase 14 Automated External Defibrillator (AED) portable devices.

AEDs check heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). SCA is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.

The grant is for $11,900 according to Russell County EMS. The total cost of the AEDs is $23,730. The rest of the cost will be split between the Russell County departments.

Each Russell County Rural Fire Station will receive a new AED, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism at Wilson Lake will receive three AEDs, and one AED will go to the Russell County 4-H Building.


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Nursing home evacuated

Leavenworth Times – May 18, 2018

A Lansing nursing home was evacuated Wednesday because of a carbon monoxide leak, a fire department official said.

People at Lansing Care & Rehabilitation Center, 210 Plaza Drive, eventually were allowed to go back inside the building after it was determined to be safe.

The incident was reported around 9 a.m. Rick Huhn, chief of Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1, said an alarm had sounded in the building.

When firefighters arrived, they recorded a carbon monoxide level of more than 60 parts per million.

The building was evacuated and the Leavenworth County Health Department, Emergency Management and EMS were contacted.

Huhn said it was determined that a water heater was the source of the carbon monoxide leak.


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Crews battle 2-alarm fire at Taco Bell in Andover

KAKE – May 18, 2018

Fire crews have gained control of a two-alarm fire at the Taco Bell in Andover.

The fire was reported at around 2 p.m. Thursday at the Taco Bell at 336 South Andover Road, just north of Highway 54. The fire was brought under control about a half-hour later.

A dispatcher said there were no reports of injuries. Drivers should expect delays in the area of Highway 54 and Andover Road.


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Fire causes second largest ash tree in Kansas to be cut down

By Brandon Schmitz
Pittsburg Morning Sun – May 17, 2018

One of Opolis’s signature landmarks is set to be cut down following a fire over the weekend.

Described as the second largest ash tree in Kansas, the tree caught fire Saturday at Maggie Grebe Memorial Park. During a town meeting, it was decided that the tree would be cut down June 2.

Baker Township Fire Department Chief Mike Ryan said the cause of the fire is unknown.

“We don’t really know what happened other than it caught on fire and one of the girls here in town was coming home around 10 p.m. and saw it was flaming,” resident Debbie Mertz said. “By midnight, most of the town was there because we were all like ‘oh my gosh, our blessed tree!’”

According to Mertz, the tree is at least 100 years old.

“This tree is the heart of our park,” she said. “I have had Facebook messages from kids that grew up here who haven’t been here for 30 years and they expressed how sad they were about us losing our tree.”

The resident said a county extension agent had noticed problems with the tree prior to the fire, including cracks and hollow spaces.

“In a public place like that park, you really can’t take a chance,” Mertz said. “Some people are saying they would like to take a log and maybe carve their name on it so they can put it in their front yard.”

The Mertz family has its own plans for what is left of the tree, too.

“We do crafts for a living and we want to make a bench for us,” the resident said. “Our big thing is Christmas ornaments and I’m sure I’ll make some out of that tree.”

Mertz reminisced on her experiences with the ash tree.

“I would take my kids over there when they were little and just in those swings,” she said. “Our park and that tree in particular is our connection to the good old days, you know?”


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Family loses pet in S. Wichita mobile home fire

KWCH – May 17, 2018


A family of six lost nearly all their possessions including their dog when their mobile home caught fire Wednesday night.

The fire started around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 3000 block of Sunview . When crews arrived on scene, flames were shooting out the front door and windows.

“The fire caused significant damage to the inside of the house, really no damage to the outside except where it was coming out of,” says Captain Bill Herold.

Firefighters say there were two adults and four children that made it out of the home safely. Their cat died in the fire.

Red Cross will be helping the family.


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Lightning strikes twice — hitting tower, oil tanks

By Greg Mast
Ottawa Herald – May 17, 2018

A lightning show can be beautiful to watch as thunderstorms roll through the area, but it can turn into a scary event.

Those strikes can damage property and hurt or kill people. Monday night’s lightning storm left behind its mark.

Two oil tanks leased by a Wellsville man were hit by lightning and caught fire in the 4200 block of Virginia Road at 7:37 p.m. Monday, according to a sheriff’s report. The fire was contained to the property and extinguished, according to officials. The loss was estimated at $14,200, the sheriff’s report said.

The KOFO radio tower — which stands 400 feet high — may have been hit by a lightning strike as well. Brad Howard, KOFO’s owner, said it may not have been a direct hit. The Ottawa Fire Department investigated the incident shortly after midnight Tuesday at 320 E. Radio Road, Ottawa, and found no fire, according to a fire department report.

“We have a little phenomenon that happens out here in thunderstorms where it arcs across the guide wires,” Howard said. “It happens all the time when we have thunderstorms move through. It is AM tower and AM towers are grounded into the guide wires, otherwise it would ground the signal out. At night, you can see it. It is Mother Nature having a little fun, and there is nothing you can do about it.”

The tower sticks out like a sore thumb during lightning storms, Howard said.

“It is a good lightning rod,” he said.

Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County Emergency Management director, said many of the towers in place today across the county are protected.

“They have special grounding on them, even if lightning strikes them, it goes to the ground,” he said.

Radcliffe said the main damage a lot of times is the power surges caused by the strikes, which knocks out the electricity.

He warned even a small storm like Monday’s can pack a serious punch. He said the main tip for staying safe in a lightning storm is if you can hear thunder, you need to go inside. He said people this time of year have begun to hang out at the ball fields and golf courses.

“People need to be aware of the weather and when storms are approaching, if they have lightning in them,” Radcliffe said. “If you hear the thunder, they need to get off the ball fields.”

Radcliffe said the oil tanker fire was quickly extinguished by the Wellsville Fire Department using foam, which takes away the oxygen.

“They used foam to blanket it,” he said. “When you have black oil burning, you are going to have black smoke. All the oil and runoff was contained on the property.”

Lightning strikes can be powerful. Cloud-to-ground lightning bolts are a common phenomenon — about 100 strike Earth’s surface every second — yet their power is extraordinary, according to Each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity, the website said.

Lightning is extremely hot as a flash can heat the air around it to temperatures five times hotter than the sun’s surface, the site said. The heat causes surrounding air to rapidly expand and vibrate, which creates the peal of thunder a short time after seeing a lightning flash.


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Fire erupts day before graduation

By Phyllis Zorn
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – May 16, 2018

A Marion family’s home caught fire Friday, the day before a son’s high school graduation ceremony.

Tina and Roger Hoffner, 219 N. 1st St., have three children: Garrett, a high school senior who graduated Saturday, and twins Nathan and Natalie, 12.

Tina Hoffner said a passer-by, Susan Gray, spotted the fire and called her at Marion High School within 20 minutes of leaving the house that morning.

“I just happened to be here before I went down to decorate for graduation,” she said.

The fire began in the kitchen, although the cause has yet to be determined, Hoffner said.

Marion, Florence, and Hillsboro fire departments responded and quickly doused the flames.

Hoffner said the family is doing well and sheltering with a relative.

The fire won’t affect Garrett Hoffner’s post-graduation plans, his mother said.

Hoffner said she doesn’t yet know when repairs can begin.

“We still have two or three more insurance people to go through the house,” she said.

Besides the firefighters and Gray, Hoffner expressed thanks to Central National Bank, Tampa State Bank, and friends and family for bringing water to responders, support, and helping with the children.

Hoffner said she’s not aware of any assistance efforts at the current time.

“Right now we’re just waiting to know what the insurance does before we can figure out what we need,” she said.


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Sunday high school graduate dies in Kan. crash

Hays Post – May 16, 2018

A Kansas teen died in an accident just after 11:30p.m. Monday in Dickinson County.

A vehicle driven by Colin M. Henderson, 17, Chapman, was traveling in the 3200 Block of Rain Road, according to Sheriff Garreth Hoffman.

The vehicle left the road and hit a culvert for a field or driveway entrance. The vehicle overturned and Henderson was ejected, according to Hoffman.

The teenager had just graduated from Chapman High School on Sunday.

The sheriff confirmed that there was no indication of any alcohol or drugs at the scene of the accident.


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Firefighter creates cancer prevention effort

By Chad Frey
Newton Kansan – May 16, 2018

Lt. Jerry Rostetter working to create cancer prevention efforts on the Newton Fire Department. Photo by Chad Frey

Ask a firefighter if he knows someone who has battled, or died, of cancer, and the answer is likely to include coworkers. Lt. Jerry Rostetter with Newton Fire/EMS can easily list former coworkers who have suffered, some who have died — including his own father.

“Usually, when you get to that retirement age is when you see it,” Rostetter said. “You can see it before. (Earlier issues) has not been that prevalent around here. On bigger departments, you will see younger guys. … There are a lot of guys that have retired here that have gotten cancer.”

He can quickly list friends and former co-workers — about half a dozen.

Rostetter has been with the department for 26 years. His retirement is about four years away.

According to, cancer is the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths in the United States. According to the International Association of Firefighters, firefighters are diagnosed with cancer at a rate that is more than five times that of the general population.

Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population, according to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.

“There a lot of different cancers that come about,” Rostetter said. “We did a lot or research. … We developed a team and researched what everybody does and how they do it. We looked at what would be good for us.

It is something that Rostetter wanted to do something about. He and Brett Butler started researching not only the problem, but possible prevention procedures that the Newton Fire/EMS department could put into place. After a few months of work, there are some new bags of equipment in each fire truck along with new procedures for firefighters.

Some of it sounds so small — like wiping down equipment and skin with special wipes after finishing up at the scene of a fire. There’s also a new pressurized hose to wash down a firefighter and their equipment with water from the truck, and bags to put worn equipment in to try and contain carcinogenic gasses before the equipment can be properly cleaned.

“This has changed the way we do business,” said Phillip Beebe, Division Chief for Newton Fire/EMS. “In the past it has been a badge of honor to have a smoky, blackened helmet and your fire gear all grungy with soot and smoke and so forth. That kind of made you look like you had been there, and done that. As it turns out, all that black, sooty, nasty stuff are carcinogens that we hang on to and keep coming in contact with. That is one small part of this.”

After a fire, firefighters are now scrubbing each other down and trying to get as much of those cancer causers off of each other. Firefighters are also leaving their airpacks on longer to keep clean air going into their lungs — even after the fire is out.

Rostetter said other issues still to come are adding more gear, finding a way to deal with vehicle emissions and getting toxins out of the body.

“When you go to a fire, you come back, you wipe yourself down but it is still in your system,” Rostetter said.


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Motorcyclist dies after Saturday crash with FedEx truck

By Nick Viviani and Tiernan Shank
WIBW – May 16, 2018

The motorcyclist who was struck by a Federal Express truck Saturday afternoon has died, the Shawnee Co. Sheriff’s Office says.

Authorities identified the motorcyclist as Anthony J. Forshee, 28, of Berryton. Their investigation into the wreck remains under investigation.

The crash happened around 1:30 p.m. near SE 35th Street and SE Croco Road. Authorities say the FedEx truck was traveling north on Croco. The driver turned onto 35th Street and hit the southbound motorcycle.

The Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, Shawnee Heights Fire Department and AMR responded to the scene.

The driver of the Fed Ex truck was not hurt, authorities said.


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RCFD Awarded Grant from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

By David Elliott
KRSL – May 16, 2018

The Russell City Fire Department has been awarded a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.

The award of $27,056 will be used to purchase four self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air packs and cylinders for the firefighters.

This fire safety equipment protects firefighters from breathing in harmful toxins that are found on fire and hazardous materials scenes.

The Russell City Fire Department thanks the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for helping the Department continue to keep firefighters safe on every call.

In 2005, the Firehouse Subs founders established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation with the mission of providing funding, life-saving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations. Through the non-profit 501(c)(3), Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has granted more than $33 million to hometown heroes in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, including more than $471,000 in Kansas.

(Information courtesy Russell City Fire Department.)


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Fireball Triggers Sprinklers at Salina Plant

KSAL – May 16, 2018

A fire inside a mixing room at a Salina food supply company leads to over $200,000 in loss and damages.

Fire Marshal Troy Long with SFD tells KSAL News that the fire sprinkler system at McShares Food Supply & Equipment saved the company from further losses after a fire ignited just before 10:30pm Tuesday evening.

Long says smoke began pouring out of a mixing machine and auger. A handful of employees cleared the room before a small explosion and fireball triggered the sprinkler heads inside the facility at 1835 E. North Street.

Fire crews used fans to clear the smoke out of the building.

No one was injured.

McShares supplies flour mixes for the food and baking industries.


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USDA to invest millions into 2 rural Kansas communities

KWCH – May 16, 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $243 million in 50 rural community facility projects including two in Kansas.

Osborne County will receive an $18,735,000 investment to build a new hospital.

The county’s current hospital is aging and has structural, mechanical and other problems. The new hospital will have 16 inpatient beds, an outpatient clinic, laboratory and radiology departments, food service, physical therapy and administrative offices. Emergency services will also be located in the new hospital.

The Dorrance Rural Fire District #4 will receive a $265,000 investment to expand.

The fire department lacks adequate space to store all of the district’s equipment in a safe and secure building. The addition will be large enough to house all of the district’s fire trucks. A shower and restrooms will be added.

The USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The recently passed 2018 Omnibus bill increased the Fiscal Year 2018 budget for the program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.


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UAS First Responder Symposium June 1 at Kansas State Polytechnic

First responders and public safety officials in law enforcement, fire, emergency management and city governance are invited to attend the Unmanned Aircraft Systems First Responder Symposium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, June 1, at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina.

Co-sponsored by Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus and the Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative of Oklahoma and Kansas, which is known as the UAS Cluster Initiative, this networking event will bring agencies from across the state and Midwest to discuss UAS opportunities for first responders.

“Consistent with our vision to help promote the continued integration of UAS into our national airspace system, the vision of this symposium is to leverage Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS expertise to continue providing support of our public safety partners,” said Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State Polytechnic. “UAS technologies offer many benefits to our first responder community. This symposium will bring together agencies already conducting UAS operations with those that are trying to evaluate how to get started. Our goal is to have candid discussions about opportunities and restrictions of UAS with this community.”

The symposium provides focused time to network and learn from first responder agencies at all levels of UAS operation integration. Presentations from Kansas State Polytechnic’s Applied Aviation Research Center will discuss Part 107 regulations versus public operations, as well as updates on the UAS industry. A panel of public safety experts, including members from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Riley County Police Department, will discuss their successes and challenges in implementing UAS operations. In addition, members of the UAS Cluster Initiative will speak about their goals in accelerating UAS growth in the area.

“Furthering the conversation about UAS expansion in Kansas is a goal of the UAS Cluster Initiative,” said Josh O’Brien, a team leader with the initiative. “The opportunity for continued UAS growth in public safety is exciting. We look forward to the conversation and the collaborations that will come from the symposium.”

Registration for the symposium is open now. The cost is $10 per person and includes lunch. To register, visit the symposium website at . The deadline to register is May 25. For questions about the symposium, please call Kansas State Polytechnic Professional Education and Outreach at 855-552-0079.

Kansas State Polytechnic was recently named the third-place winner in the training and education category of the 2018 XCELLENCE Awards by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International. This award recognizes the valuable training offered and the significant role Kansas State Polytechnic has in the UAS industry. Kansas State Polytechnic offers a variety of UAS training courses, including a law enforcement specific flight training course. To learn more about these courses, visit

TheUnmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative of Oklahoma and Kansas accelerates the growth of the unmanned aerial system industry in the U.S. by enabling established companies and emerging entrepreneurs in Oklahoma and Kansas to connect, work together and gain access to national technology, global capital, advanced business models and global markets. Learn more about the UAS Cluster Initiative at


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McPherson fire chief to retire in September

By Mindy Leiter Kepfield
McPherson Sentinel – May 15, 2018

McPherson’s Fire Chief Jeff Deal offered his resignation to the McPherson City commission during its regular meeting on Monday.

His last day will be Sept. 21, 2018. A search is in place for his successor.


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Mark Kelsey Hodges

Mark K. Hodges, aged 60, a longtime area resident, loving father and community volunteer died Tuesday, April 10, 2018 in Dewey.

Mark was born the son of Wilfred Leon and Jill Ann (Winters) Hodges on September 16, 1957 in Corsicana, TX. At the age of 10, Mark and his family moved to Caney, KS. After graduating from Caney Valley High School in 1976, Mark furthered his education at Coffeyville Junior College before transferring to Kansas State in Manhattan, KS, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree.

Mark was united in marriage with his high school sweetheart Jane Dyer on January 3, 1981 and they later divorced. They made their home in Caney before moving to Dewey in 1996. Mark was deeply committed to the community, serving on the Caney Volunteer Fire Department from the late 70s to the mid 90s, including serving many years as Fire Chief. Mark also served on the Dewey School Board. He worked for Phillips Petroleum Company for about 20 years in the Corporate Communications group, producing multimedia products for company use. Later he owned and operated Hodges Fence and Deck from 2005 to 2008.

Mark was a loving father who coached his boys’ ball teams. When he wasn’t coaching, he was their biggest fan, faithfully attending all of the activities they participated in. He loved the Lord and was an active member of the Dewey United Methodist Church, participating in volunteer mission trips and community outreach.

Mark loved to be active and was handy, both on and off the job. He was very creative and always found a solution for the problems he encountered. Weekends at Grand Lake were a highlight for the boys during their younger years.

Mark is survived by his three boys, Clint Hodges and Ashley of Yukon, Michael Hodges and Amy of Cypress, TX, Jackson Hodges and Sally of Manhattan, KS; brother Mike Hodges and Cindy of Lafayette, CA; three sisters Jackie Gilmore of Kansas City, MO, Kyle Burch and Roger of Caney, KS, and Laurie Hodges of Kansas City, MO; three grandchildren Wyatt, Bennett and Kellan Hodges; and numerous other family and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Journey Home, 900 NE Washington Blvd., Bartlesville, OK 74006.


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Second county fire district formed

By Dale Hogg
Great Bend Tribune – May 15, 2018

Following a lengthy public hearing, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved the organization of a new fire district in the county. Fire District Number Two consists of Albion, Eureka, North Homestead, South Homestead and Union townships, and the cities of Hoisington, Olmitz and Susank.

In addition, the resolution called for the creation of a board of trustees to consist of from three to nine members representing each township and city in the district. The board is empowered to conduct the district’s business,including making an annual tax levy, not to exceed nine mills, upon all the taxable tangible property within the district, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.

Upon initial appointment, four members were selected to serve for a term ending on Dec. 31, 2019, with five serving one full calendar year later (2020). All terms are uncompensated.

The only party to the district that has not put forward a board nominee is Union Township.

Named were: Sarah Younger, Albion Township, term to 2019; Michael McCurry, Eureka Township, to 2019; Richard Lacey, North Homestead, term to 2020; Brandon Yeakley, South Homestead, term to 2020; Shannon Donovan, City of Hoisington, term to 2020; Curtis Peterson, City of Olmitz, term to 2019; and Jackie DeBusk, City of Susank, term to 2019.

“We are one of the cities that has expressed support for this,” Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said. He noted that the project has been in the works for a year and half.

In fact, all of the eight entities involved back the idea, he said. “We have heard no concerns.”

However, Commissioner Kenny Schremmer said he has heard grumbling about the potential for a nine-mill tax to fund the district. “My phone has been ringing off the wall.”

Mitchell said he understood, saying the intention is to keep the mill levy around three mills. “But, that is up to the board.”

Still, he said the folks involved are pretty conservative. “We’re not going to have a runaway governing body.”

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who goes out and fights fires,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. But, she added, she is a little gun shy regarding the taxation, recalling Barton Community College that first promised only three mills and is now at 30.

“This is out of our hands,” she said.

Mitchell assured commissioners the district board must adhere to the same rules as any governing body. Budgets will require public hearings and input, as well as publication before approval.

A long time coming

The matter has been on the on the commission’s plate for over a year. “I know this has been a long process,” Mitchell said.

But, it was important to act as soon as possible so the board could meet and get the budget set.

State law requires that the board have a minimum of three members and maximum on nine. This district already has seven and there is no deadline to fill the final opening.

This resolution follows one passed in March setting the date for the hearing. After it was published three times in the Great Bend Tribune, there was a public comment period.

In addition to the county, each of the communities in the district had to OK a resolution to join.

The fire district was a topic of a meeting last February at the Hoisington Fire Department that included fire chiefs from the impacted area. Mitchell and Hoisington Fire Chief Jerry Stricker, who spoke then, have advocated for this change since.

According to information presented at that meeting, the Hoisington Fire Department now falls under City of Hoisington. The city provides most of the funding but, in addition, the department also has five-year contracts to serve Albion, Eureka, North Homestead, South Homestead and Union townships covering over 150 square miles.

In a district, the department would no longer be a part of the city. Instead, it would be a function of the district which would be a stand-alone taxing entity within the county budget.

Claflin has been a part of Claflin Fire District Number One since 1956, and it encompasses the far northeastern corner of Barton County. It takes in Beaver, Cleveland, Independent, Cheyenne (and Cheyenne Bottoms) and Logan townships, and also the communities of Beaver, Hitschmann, Odin and Redwing.

The County Commission serves as the board for District Number One.

In the cases of the other communities that are not a part of a district, such as Ellinwood and Great Bend, they contract with the townships.


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Extending Fourth fireworks fun fizzles

By Dale Hogg
Great Bend Tribune – May 15, 2018

After fierce opposition from fire chiefs across Barton County, the County Commission Monday morning rejected a resolution that would have allowed the discharge of fireworks in the unincorporated area of the county for the week surrounding the Fourth of July.

Since Independence Day falls on Wednesday this year, Sheriff Brian Bellendir asked that fireworks be allowed from 6 p.m., June 29, until midnight, July 8. This period includes both the weekend before and after the actual holiday, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.

According to Hathcock, Bellendir’s thinking was the enforcement of a one-day discharge period with the Fourth falling midweek.

This would have only applied to this year. It would have also been contingent on dry conditions and burn bans that may arise.

However, “we’ve got some great concerns about this,” an upset Ellinwood Fire Chief Chris Komarek said. He said fire officials were caught off guard with this being on the Monday agenda and would have liked to have been consulted.

“I am speaking for most fire departments,” he said. Indeed, other chiefs present at the meeting spoke against the change as well.

“The discharge of fireworks creates a big fire risk,” Komarek said. “We get stretched pretty thin,” with both firefighters and equipment taxed.

This is a particular problem in smaller departments like Ellinwood’s that are all volunteer, Komarek said. He has 24 firefighters, but is lucky to get 12 to respond, a problem made even worse during the work week. Some of his guys work out of town.

The State of Kansas allows the sale of fireworks from June 27-July 5. But, it leaves the shooting of them up to the local municipalities.

Several years ago, the county moved from allowing fireworks from July 1-4. But, that was changed to allow them only on the Fourth, the same as the cities in the county.

Komarek said that was progress. “I recommend we follow that. I say we just shoot them on the Fourth and be done with it.”

Then, what about next year when the Fourth falls on a Thursday, Komarek said? Or any other week day?

It is not just volunteer departments that would feel the pinch, Great Bend Fire Chief Luke McCormick said. Great Bend increases staffing on the Fourth in anticipation of fires and over nine days, “that could be a budget issue.”

This could also hit smack in the middle of the wheat harvest. In addition to more fire dangers, many volunteers also help in the harvest fields.

In the end, it was balancing people having more time to celebrate with the potential for more property damage, commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. It is important to side with safety.

“I think we should leave the regulation as it is,” Commissioner Don Davis said.

Since the status quo is only allows one day to shoot fireworks, the lack of commission action keeps this in place.


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Man drowns at Big Hill Lake

Parsons Sun – May 15, 2018

A Coffeyville Community College student drowned Saturday afternoon at the swim beach at Big Hill Lake in rural Cherryvale.

The Labette County Sheriff’s Department received the call at 2:52 p.m. Saturday of a reported drowning at the beach. There are no life guards on duty at the Big Hill swim beach.

At the time of the call, Chase A. Dennis, 19, had been under water about two or three minutes, Sheriff Darren Eichinger said.

Eichinger said Dennis had been swimming with his girlfriend at the beach. They swam out to the buoys and were on their way back. The girlfriend was ahead of Dennis when he called for help. She swam back to help but he began pulling her under so she had to separate.

Parsons Fire Department, Labette Health Ambulance Service, Mound Valley Fire Department, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and Cherryvale fire department and ambulance service responded.

Emergency workers recovered Dennis’ body at 3:35 p.m. and attempted resuscitation.

Eichinger said Dennis was found in 10 to 20 feet of water near the same area as he disappeared from view.

Dennis is from Keller, Texas.


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One dead after early morning house fire

By A J Dome
WIBW – May 15, 2018

Photo by Eric Ives

One person is dead after a house fire early Tuesday morning in the Oakland area of Topeka.

Firefighters say they arrived shortly after midnight to a home in the 500 block of NE Strait. They say the home was fully involved in flames when they arrived.

The fire was brought under control quickly, but the contents of the home posed a challenge to fire crews.

Authorities say ammunition stored inside was reportedly going off when they got on scene. They also said the home was difficult to navigate inside due to clutter.

Upon investigating, firefighters found a deceased victim inside. Further details about the victim have not been released.

Authorities say investigators will be working to determine the cause of the fire.


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