Topeka Firefighters help battle wildfires

By Shawn Wheat
WIBW – March 9, 2017


First responders from all across the state have converged on communities who need help battling wildfires throughout the state, including the Topeka Fire Department.

T.F.D. is used to getting calls for help, but when an entire county needs assistance, they’ll travel the distance, along with other agencies from every corner of Kansas.

“Lock it up and get in,” yelled Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Hileman, to a semi driver who was stuck on I-70 near Wilson on Monday. The truck was surrounded by fire, and the trooper drove through the flames to rescue the driver.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is one of several agencies helping battling a series of wildfires, which have torched more than 650,000 acres so far. The Kansas National Guard deployed Black Hawk helicopters to attack from the air.

While the Topeka Fire Department is among agencies answering the call for help on the ground.

“It wasn’t no calling people and asking. They were wanting help,” said Battalion Chief Mark Brannock. He was among a Topeka crew staffing a fire station in Hutchinson Tuesday, when they were put in charge of getting ready for another round of wildfires.

According to Brannock, “We roughly had close to 100 brush trucks out last night on the north side of Hutchinson, just trying to shovel, extinguish any hot spots. Trees that are burning, cutting them down, to try and prepare for the 30 mile per hour wind.”

Solider Township, Osage county, Manhattan, Riley county, Valley Falls, Silver Lake and Auburn also sent equipment or personnel to assist, along with volunteers from all across the state.

Brannock said he was impressed with how many volunteers were on hand to help, “You know, they’re volunteers. They’re just kinda farm kids out there, but they were very professional. Knew what they were doing, and no body got hurt.”

Governor Sam Brownback toured the area Wednesday, getting a firsthand look at how Emergency crews are coordinating their efforts. The Kansas Division of Emergency management says Clark and Comanche counties set a new record for the most widespread *single fire in state history, with more than 500,000 acres burned in that incident alone.

Governor Brownback issued a state of emergency Monday night. The emergency operations center in Topeka remains activated to coordinate the state’s response.


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

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