Fire engulfs home near Silver Lake

By Nate Hill
Kansas First News – March 30, 2014

silver lake fire 3302014

Multiple fire departments are getting a large fire under control in Northern Shawnee County.

According to dispatch, the fire started at 12:31 p.m. as a farmer was burning grass and it got out of control.

Fire departments from Silver Lake, Soldier Township, St. Mary’s and Topeka have all been working the fire.

Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones tells Kansas First News the fire covers at least 1,500 acres. It has engulfed one home and four out buildings. No injuries have been reported.

The fire caught a tree on fire that fell into some power lines. As a result, half of the town of Silver Lake was without power as of 3:45 p.m., according to Police Chief Randy Call.

From Topeka Capital Journal – By Matt Evans

A massive grass fire spreading between 1,000 and 1,500 acres severely damaged at least three homes and numerous other outbuildings northwest of Topeka on Sunday afternoon, but no injuries were reported, first responders in Shawnee County said.

The cause of the fire just south of Shawnee County State Park was unknown and under investigation as of 5:30 p.m, Silver Lake Fire Department Captain Graig Brummer said.

The blaze was one of at least 20 grass fires reported Sunday in Shawnee County, a county dispatcher told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Authorities said the first reports of the large fire came out around 12:30 p.m. in the 5700 block of N.W. Humphrey, and it quickly spread north to N.W. 78th with Humphrey being the eastern border. The blaze went west as far as Hodges Road, and while a small part crossed Humphrey going east, it was quickly managed.

Brummer said one house was destroyed and at least two others had significant damage. He said the outbuildings damaged or destroyed were still being counted but was at least a handful.

No one was in the house that was destroyed, Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones said.

Brummer added he hadn’t seen a situation “quite to this extent,” and it ranked on the “upper end” of fires he has dealt with.

Many longtime residents of the area said it was the biggest they had seen.

Fire crews from throughout Shawnee County fought the fire through strong winds, Jones said, with gusts estimated at upwards of 30 mph.

Several homes were evacuated, as several structures dotted the path of the fire.

“(Authorities) were able evacuate as many of these homes as possible, therefore no injuries,” Jones said. “The quick response saved a lot of those structures. You just really got to be careful with these types of conditions.”

While firefighters were still dealing with the fire well into the afternoon, it was relatively under control when Jones gave his report around 3 p.m.

“I got to say because of our quick response we were able to mitigate, or at least minimize what we have,” Jones said.

As of 5:30 p.m., Brummer said the majority of the fire was out and under control, but they were still working spot fires, doing cleanup work and collecting information.

A cost estimate to the damage done wasn’t immediately known.

Some of the fires going on from across the county may have been from fires the day previous that started up again, Jones said.

At least 10 fire units fought the blaze, and beside those from Shawnee County, Mayetta, Hoyt and St. Marys fire crews assisted.

The command post for first responders was at N.W. 66th and Humprhey.

In addition to the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, people from the Silver Lake Police Department, Kansas Highway Patrol, Shawnee County Emergency Management and American Medical Response were on scene.

KHP provided aerial views of the fire with its airplane.

While there were several other grass fires Sunday, no other structures were reported damaged.

At point Sunday, four different fires were being held with no one to respond, a county dispatcher said, as the massive one northwest of Topeka took up a lot of resources.

One other grass fire reported around 1 p.m. west of the capital city near Interstate 70 left crews battling it for several hours.

The only injury reported Sunday was a very minor incident to a firefighter at one of the many grass fires, officials said. After receiving treatment on scene from AMR, the firefighter was fine.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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