Several Southeast Kansas fire departments travel west to help combat grassfires

By Jeremiah Cook
Four States News – March 9, 2017


“There’s been several instances in the past where we’ve needed assistance, and we’ve gotten it from several department across the region,” explained Galena fire fighter Stephen Derfelt. “It was our chance to pay it back and we were lucky to have a few guys that were able to respond and send them out there to help. Our two firemen that went to Western Kansas were Justin Click and our fire captain Jeremy Fields.”

Galena volunteer fire fighter Stephen Derfelt says while the fires in Western Kansas are similar to what they’ve fought in the past, every fire presents its own unique challenges.

“Every grass fire is a little bit different,” Derfelt continued. “It depends on the lay of the land, the structures involved, the wind speed– there’s a lot of different factors that play into it.”

Derfelt says the two men from Galena took a tanker truck, similar to this one, with them when they left. He says while the eight people responding from Cherokee County may not seem like much, when combined with other fire fighters from across the state, it can make a big difference.

“It does start to add up,” Derfelt added. “Every little bit helps and the more people we can get out there, the better.”

Derfelt says there is a lesson in this for all of us, because while the fires in Clark and Comanche Counties may be hundreds of miles away, the danger is very real here at home.

“It’s always a good idea to check with your local department before you do any burning,” said Derfelt. “Several municipalities require you to have a burn permit, so check with your local government to see what’s required, and if you’re to do any burning.”

Officials with the state of Kansas say the fires in Clark and Comanche Counties have set a new record for the state. In Clark County, more than 351,000 acres have burned so far, and another 151,000 acres have burned in Comanche County.

The total of 502,000 acres surpasses the Anderson Creek Fire of 2016 that burned more than 312,000 acres. Governor Sam Brownback declared a State of Disaster Emergency on Sunday.

The hope is that the fire fighters from Cherokee County will be headed home by the end of the week, but there hasn’t been a firm timeline set for that just yet.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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