Archive for June, 2017

U-Haul crashes, spills gas into Reflection Ridge pond

KWCH – June 30, 2017

The Wichita Fire Department was called to a west Wichita housing addition Friday morning after gas was spilled into a pond.

The crash happened in the Reflection Ridge neighborhood, near 29th and Ridge Road.

Firefighters called out for several booms to limit the gas from contaminating the water on the golf course.


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Dr. John R. Ferguson

Dr. John R. Ferguson, age 85, entered into rest on Monday, June 26, 2017 at Park Villa Nursing Home, Clyde, Kansas. He was born September 22, 1931 in Mankato, Kansas to John Harold and Leatha (Bashford) Ferguson.

John was a graduate of Mankato High School in 1949. He received his bachelor’s degree and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1955. John served in the United States Army from 1955-1957.

John Married Bonnie Lue Renner on June 3, 1951 in Manhattan, Kansas.

He is survived by his, wife Bonnie, 3 sons, Brian Ferguson(Theresa), Littleton, CO.; Corey Ferguson (Sandy), Salina, KS.; Dana Ferguson, Atlanta, GA.; daughter, Eva Renner, of NC.

18 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren

John was preceded in death by infant child, parents, sister, Beth Tyler.

John (Swede) operated and owned his own Vet Clinic in the Clyde Community where he was a Veterinarian for 55 plus years.

John was a lifetime member of the United Methodist Church in Clyde where he was a Sunday school teacher. John was involved in Ministry and traveled to many Lay Witness Missions. He was also a Clyde Lions Club and Gideon’s member as well. John was a Boy Scout Leader, also served on the Clyde Fire Department. He was an avid K-State Fan and enjoyed camping.

Cremation has taken place and a Memorial Service will be held 10:30 a.m., Friday, July 7, 2017 at The Branch in Clyde, Kansas, with Pastor Anita Strommen officiating. Inurnment will follow in the Mt. Hope Cemetery, Clyde.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, July 6, 2017 from 1:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Family will receive friends from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. all at Chaput Mortuary, Clyde, Kansas.


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Donald Dean “Don” Snyder

Donald Dean Snyder, of Mankato, Kansas, was born January 10, 1933, on a farm in Atchison County, Kansas. He was the son of Irl and Loella (Binkley) Snyder. Donald died Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at the Jewell County Hospital, Mankato, Kansas, at the age of 84 years, 5 months, and 17 days.

He spent the first 8 years in the Effingham, Kansas, before moving to Montrose. Don attended school in Montrose, graduating from Montrose High School. He went to Fairbury Junior College for one year, and then drafted into the United States Army, in April 1953. He attained the rank of Corporal while serving in Korea and was discharged in March of 1955.

Don married Barbara Ann Diamond, on June 12, 1955.

Don worked for many years at the Mankato Lumber Company and later for Melby Mortuary. He served in the office of Emergency Management, for Jewell County and Osborne County as Director the past many years. Don retired from the Mankato Fire Department as the Fire Chief in June of 1988, after many years of service. He served on Mankato Housing Authority Board.

Don was truly a people person. His work with community groups, county boards, and state agencies, reflected the accumulation of many friends and working partners around the state and beyond. He was the ray of sunshine in any room he was in, and had the knack for making those around him smile. Many will say that he is truly the best person they’ve ever known.

Don enjoyed hunting, watching Kansas Jayhawks basketball, and the Kansas City Royals baseball. Time spent with his many nieces, nephews, and family members, reliving the days gone by, as well as the current activities their lives was important to Don.

Don is survived by his wife – Barbara of 62 years; sister – Virginia (Snyder) Rightmeier; two sisters-in-law – Bonnie Snyder and Jerilyn Diamond; and a host of nieces, nephews, great-nephews, and nieces; and other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; four sisters – June Joslin, Erma Dunstan, Olive Intermill, and Leta Adams; four brothers – Nelson, Bob, Glen, and Gene Snyder; and one brother-in-law – Larry Diamond.

A celebration of life service for Donald Dean Snyder will be (was) Saturday, July 1, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., at the Harmony United Methodist Church, Mankato, Kansas, with Pastors Gerry Sharp and Laura Fricker, officiating. Mrs. Pat Grout served as organist. Visitation will be (was) Friday, June 30, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Melby Mortuary, Mankato, Kansas, with the family receiving friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Mortuary. The family suggests memorials to Jewell County Hospital or Mankato Fire Department.


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Local agencies look into administrating drug to combat opioid overdose

By Daniela Leon
WIBW – June 30, 2017

Come July 1st, a new Kansas law will allow first responders, including law enforcement officers and fire fighters, to administer the drug Narcan.

The medication instantly counteracts the symptoms of an opioid overdose.

The issue is increasingly in the public eye. An analysis from Blue Cross Blue Shield of its members released Thursday found that from 2010 to 2016, the number of people diagnosed with an addiction to opioids — including both legal prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs — climbed 493 percent. In Kansas, drug poisoning deaths increased 121.6 percent since 2000, according to the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment’s latest vital statistics report. Health officials attribute the increase largely to the increased use of opioid medications, which are drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin.

“People truly need pain medication for certain reasons and they start taking those medicines and building an intolerance and start taking more and more,” said Jon Antrim, Shawnee and Wabaunsee County AMR Operations Manager.

AMR ambulance personnel has been administering the drug for a while. In 2016, they used it 48 times, an increase from 2015 when they administered the drug 39 times.

This new law, approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback this spring, allows officers for agencies like Topeka Police, Topeka Fire and the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to give out the drug.

Antrim said it could mean the difference between life and death, since an ambulance EMT may not be the first one to encounter the person in crisis.

“It allows more people to administer the drug and get it to people that need it in a timely fashion,” Antrim said.

Antrim says Narcan has few side effects. Agencies who want to add it to their arsenal must go through extensive training, hire a medical director, and educate responders on how to administer the drug.

“I know that it is on the mind of the law enforcement community here in Shawnee County to allow this to occur and also in the first responder community,” Antrim said. “There’s talks amongst our medical director authorize those agencies who wish to have it.”

13 NEWS spoke with the Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones and Richard Sigle, the chief of emergency medical services for the Topeka Fire Department. Both said local agencies are meeting about the new law and discussing plans for training and implementing measures that would have more responders carrying Narcan in the future.


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Scoular donates grain rescue equipment to Baker Township Fire Department

By Chance Hoener
Pittsburg Morning Sun – June 30, 2017

Photo by Chance Hoener. Click on photo to view full-size.

The Scoular Company donated a life-saving tool to the Baker Township Fire Department following a tour of the Pittsburg facility Tuesday.

Facility Manager Brice Elnicki donated a grain rescue tube to Baker Fire on the behalf of Scoular. The tube works to create a barrier around a person trapped in flowing grain — in a bin or silo — and stops the flow of grain to allow rescue crews to dig the person out.

According to Scoular, a person trapped in flowing grain can become engulfed within 60 seconds, unable to free themselves. While prevention is the best practice, Elnicki said it never hurts to have the equipment on hand.

“We started looking into it, and no one around here has a rescue tube like this,” Elnicki said. “So we bought one. We’ll let Baker take it and hopefully they’ll never have to use it.”

Elnicki also took the opportunity to give Baker Fire a tour of the Pittsburg facility. He walked firefighters through potential dangers with grain dryers, rail cars and grain bins, as well as making them aware of chemicals, natural gas valves and other areas that could be a hazard in the event of a fire.

“Our main goal is to get Baker familiar with the facility,” Elnicki said. “Where our power shutoffs are, what equipment we have and any potential hazards there are if a fire ever broke out. We don’t want an emergency, but in the event of one, we want to be prepared.”

Elnicki said Scoular does walkthroughs of the facility with Baker Fire at least once a year, and with the donation, it seemed like a good opportunity for an update.

Baker Fire Chief Mike Ryan said he appreciates the proactivity of Scoular and Elnicki.

“We appreciate everything these guys have done,” he said. “We need to get out to these facilities as often as possible, and they do a great job keeping us prepared.”

Ryan said the grain rescue tube will be a benefit not only to Baker Fire, but the entire county.

“I’m not as worried about this facility, but farmers who may get trapped,” Ryan said. “We will make this equipment available to the whole county, so it will be out there to help those farmers in the case of an emergency.”


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EMS, zoning issues go before County Commission

By Olivia Haselwood
Andover Leader – June 30, 2017

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Because they’re not meeting next week, Butler County Commissioners had a packed agenda Tuesday.

Not only did Butler County Emergency Medical Service get to show off their new sprinter ambulance, but they also received an award. EMS received the 2017 Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Plus Recognition award. The award is sponsored by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations and is based on statistics generated throughout the year on EMS stroke or heart patient transfers.

Butler County EMS met the criteria to have 12 closed leads on 100 percent of their patients who complained of non-traumatic chest pain. Of those patients, EMS responding were able to get 12 closed leads on 90 percent of patients within the first 10 minutes or less on a call. They were 78 percent in getting patients to the hospital in 90 minutes or less and into a catheter lab at a hospital who complained of chest pains. All of these practices are in an effort to quickly identify and better treat heart attack or stroke patients.

Only five departments in South-Central Kansas have received the award. Reno County also was awarded the Silver award.

Following most of the business portion of the meeting, commissioners took a break to travel to the parking lot to explore the new ambulance. Due to customs holdups, the Mercedes low-top sprinter has not yet arrived. However, design and construction of the Ford mid-top sprinter is completed.

Chad Poore showed commissioners the features of the ambulance including the completely automated lift bed and the cleaner white and yellow decal design. Commissioner Marc Murphy even tested the automated lift.

EMS crews are slowly working the new vehicle into their daily routes. Several crews are utilizing the vehicle on certain calls to get used to the new design and setup of the vehicle. Poore said so far the department is pleased with how it turned out and how it operates.

Zoning changes

Several zoning changes were approved by commissioners Tuesday.

A lot split from AG 80 to AG 40 was approved for a property at 4999 NW Highway 77 owned by Greene Brothers LTD. A variance for a single wide model home at 12266 NW 90th in Whitewater was approved for Lappan Farms.

A mortgage lot split for a property owned by Meribeth Buhr at 15320 NW 10th in Benton was approved. A property at SW 180th in Douglass owned by McClure Brothers Farms was approved. The zoning changed the property from AG 80 to AG 40.

A homestead lot split plus APO was approved for a property owned by Delores Jenson at 12242 SE 160th in Latham.


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Fire causes $100,000 in damage at Junction City residence

By Katie Moore
Topeka Capital Journal – June 30, 2017

A fire at a Junction City residence caused an estimated $100,000 in damages Thursday.

The Junction City Fire Department was dispatched just before 11 a.m. for a structure fire at 407 W. 2nd, fire chief Terry Johnson said in a news release.

Crews found smoke coming from the attic area. Firefighters made entry and used a thermal imaging camera to identify a hot area in the corner of an upstairs bedroom. After opening the ceiling, they found heavy fire throughout the attic. To fight the fire and smoke, crews used forced ventilation which vertically pushed smoke and heated gases out of the structure, Johnson said.

One firefighter was treated and released from the Geary Community Hospital after being bitten by a dog at the residence.

The fire department and the State of Kansas Fire Marshal Office determined the blaze was accidental, Johnson said.


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One dead in camper accident in Northeast Kansas

KNSS – June 30, 2017

One dead, two injured in a traffic accident on I-35 in Franklin County. It happened near Georgia Rd., southwest of Ottawa, Kan. after 4 p.m. Thursday.

A Winnebago camper was northbound on I-35 when it went off the road, swerved back onto the road going briefly airborne before coming to rest on the median. The camper was pulling a trailer with a Jeep on it.

The driver of the Winnebago, 67-year-old Chester Sobota of Arizona, was taken to Overland Park Regional Hospital where he died. A male and female passenger were taken to Ransom Memorial hospital with non-life threatening injuries.


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Train fire put out quickly

Emporia Gazette – June 29, 2017

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A train caught fire before rolling into Emporia Wednesday, but firefighters were able to get it doused quickly.

At approximately 1:32 p.m., scanner traffic indicated a fire at the BNSF railway yard located at West Second Avenue and Constitution Street. The suspected blaze was in the second engine near the front of the train. The fire was actually reported when the train was still outside of town, so crews from the Emporia Fire Department were waiting for it when it pulled up to the railyard.

The fire was quickly doused and the scene was deemed clear just a little more than 20 minutes after it was reported.

Battalion Chief Steve Howe said the blaze likely was started when a friction motor overheated. The car was uncoupled from the rest of the train so that it can cool down. Once it has, maintenance crews from BNSF will assess the damage.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.


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Young boy helps family members escape burning mobile home

Emporia Gazette – June 29, 2017

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The brave action of a 6-year-old helped a rural Lyon County family escape its burning mobile home Wednesday afternoon.

A chicken coop — and later a mobile home located just north of the main property at 820 Road 290 — caught fire north of Americus Wednesday afternoon. An electrical heating fixture attached the chicken coop ignited, engulfing the chicken coop before spreading to the mobile home.

“They had a chicken coop hooked up to the outside,” said Americus Fire Chief Bill Harmon. “That’s where the origin was, was out there.”

Harmon said no one was injured, and said there was no further danger. The mobile home is a total loss.

“The south end didn’t burn but I’m going to go ahead and call it a total loss because of the smoke,” Harmon said.

The fact no one was injured was due in large part to the work of a young boy, who helped himself and two family members escape the mobile home.

“Twenty-two- year-old, Elizabeth Price, was in the residence with her two young nephews when she noticed smoke and fire in the front of the house,” Lyon County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Lee said in a written statement. “Price said her 6-year-old nephew kicked open the back door, and they all escaped without injury. Price then called 911.”

Just before 2:45 p.m., scanner traffic indicated a structure fire in the 800 block of Road 290 — about seven miles northeast of Americus. Initially, a chicken coop was the only structure said to be on fire, but within a few minutes, scanner traffic indicated the front side of a home on the property had also ignited.

When crews from the Americus Fire Department arrived on scene, they confirmed the mobile home was on fire and said there was no one inside.

Property owners, Michael and Mary Hale, were at home at the time of the fire. Emporia – Lyon County, Americus, Allen, Miller and Reading Fire Departments responded and were able to put the fire out before it could spread to other structures on the property, according to Lee.

Strong south winds of 23 miles per hour with gusts up to 36 miles per hour fueled the spread of the blaze.

A Westar Energy crew was also on scene to make sure electricity had been cut from the mobile home.


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Snafus misdirect emergency crews

By Eric Meyer and David Colburn
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – June 29, 2017

Anonymous but growing concerns among emergency responders weren’t calmed this past week by a series of mix-ups involving sheriff’s dispatchers.

Back-to-back calls Friday would have sent crews more than 10 miles away from where they were needed had responders not quickly questioned dispatchers’ instructions.

A fire, reported to be three miles west of Marion, was in fact at eight miles northeast of Marion.

Less than an hour after crews returned from that call, an accident at 330th Rd. and US-77 was reported as being both there and at 230th and Sunflower Rds., 13 miles away.

Although two dispatchers are on duty at any given time, all of the calls were made by the same dispatcher.

Lost Springs accident

At 9:31 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy was told to go to “a two-vehicle accident at 77 and 230th, 330th,” according to radio transmissions recorded by the newspaper.

Two minutes later, the same dispatcher told Marion firefighters, rescue squad, and ambulance to go to a two-car accident with no injuries at 230th and Sunflower Rds.

Overhearing the second call, the deputy questioned it and was told by the second dispatcher on duty that US-77 and 330th was correct.

However, firefighters, rescuers, and EMTs, operating on different frequencies, still were headed to 230th and Sunflower.

Meanwhile, the first dispatcher also paged Tampa ambulance, again making reference to be 230th and 330th as the crossroads with US-77.

A seemingly irritated EMT aboard Marion ambulance called dispatchers, saying: “You’re advising there’s a 10-48 [injury accident], two vehicles, at 330th and 77?”

The first dispatcher replied: “That is 10-4.”

The EMT continued: “And you’re wanting Marion to respond, or you’re having Dickinson County to co-respond?”

The location is 9 miles from Herington, 13 miles from Tampa, and 17 miles from Marion.

The first dispatcher responded: “You know, [inaudible] I had Tampa and you.”

The Marion EMT then asked: “10-4, how many patients do we have at 330th and 77?”

The first dispatcher responded: “10-4, there is [sic] no injuries at this time.”

The Marion EMT then repeated: “How many patients do we have?”

The dispatcher’s reply was halting and unintelligible.

The Marion EMT instructed the dispatcher to page a Dickinson County ambulance, but Marion firefighters still had not been notified of the correct address.

At 9:37 p.m., they finally were told by the first dispatcher to go to US-77 and 330th, but some still thought they were headed to 230th.

“We’re not sure about that,” one said. “But it’s on 77. You’ll go past 230th to 330th.”

Chief dispatcher Linda Klenda would not comment on the confusion. However, her boss, sheriff Robb Craft, said the problem was that two calls came in at almost the same time.

One was referred from Dickinson County. The other, a 911 call not about a traffic accident, was at 230th and Sunflower.

“The second time it was repeated, the dispatcher in error glanced at the CAD,” a computer screen listing the address for the other call, which didn’t involve an accident. “That was corrected before they got to that location.”

Whatever became of the call to 230th and Sunflower is not clear. Recordings do not indicate that any officers or other emergency responders ultimately were sent to that location.

“The 911 call was coming in at 230th,” Craft said. “That brought up that CAD screen, and when the dispatcher sent out the fire, rescue, and ambulance, that was what she was looking at.”

Craft did not offer an explanation why the dispatcher did not recall the location she had correctly provided moments earlier in dispatching a deputy.

“The screen for the second call was up,” he said. “That’s what she was looking at.”

Although initially billed as a non-injury accident, two ambulances were used. Tampa ambulance transported one person to St. Luke Hospital in Marion and a Dickinson County ambulance transported a more seriously injured person to a Junction City hospital. A third person declined to be transported.

Youngtown fire

Craft had no information about the mix-up on the immediately previous call, which turned out to be a baler on fire near Youngtown.

For that call, Marion firefighters initially were sent to what the first dispatcher reported as an unauthorized controlled burn “three miles out-of-town on US-56.”

Two minutes later, when a firefighter asked whether it was east or west of Marion, the dispatcher replied that it was west.

A second firefighter suggested, however, that it was east, near the US-56/77/K-150 roundabout.

Two minutes after that, the second dispatcher gave the correct location.

Similar confusion was noted in other transmissions Friday night.

Lehigh standoff

Friday night’s confusion wasn’t the only confusion over dispatches.

During an armed standoff that ended with the fatal shooting of a reportedly suicidal and intoxicated Lehigh resident June 20, a call came in about a resident of Oakwood Apartments in Hillsboro who was thought to have suffered a stroke

With Hillsboro ambulance still in Lehigh, Marion ambulance was sent on the call. Off-duty Hillsboro EMTs also responded in their own vehicles.

The Marion ambulance twice had to ask dispatchers to provide a specific street address. No address was provided until four minutes later, when Hillsboro ambulance also asked for it after volunteering to leave Lehigh and respond.

Marion ambulance was turned around and sent back to Marion. However, a minute later, Hillsboro ambulance reported that officers had asked it to remain in Lehigh. Marion ambulance was turned around again and headed back to Hillsboro.

It arrived only 11 minutes after the initial call, but immediately had to ask for help from law enforcement officers with an aggressive dog that was preventing access to the patient. Dispatchers responded that no officers were available.

A few minutes passed before EMTs radioed that they were able to evaluate the patient, whose condition was listed as possibly life-threatening. The ambulance took the patient to Hillsboro Community Hospital then continued on to Wesley Medical Center, Wichita.

Fall northwest of Durham

A series of communications problems also delayed arrival of a helicopter ambulance summoned to transport a 38-year-old woman who fell 30 feet June 21 near 330th and Bison Rds., suffering head trauma and chest pains and having no feeling in the lower half of her body.

Tampa EMTs in their own vehicles appeared to arrive first on the scene and immediately asking for a helicopter ambulance. It arrived 37 minutes later but overshot the location and was “quite a ways east and a bit south of us,” as one EMT on the ground put it.

Although both helicopter and ground transmissions were recorded on the newspaper’s monitoring equipment, the two groups could not communicate directly with each other and had to relay messages between their dispatchers, who were in touch via telephone.

At one point, the telephone connection accidentally was disconnected.

The helicopter eventually landed nine minutes later and took the patient to Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, more than an hour after the initial call.

Storm warnings

During the county’s brief scare with storms Monday night, dispatchers also had trouble keeping weather information straight.

At 8 p.m., after the National Weather Service had issued a warning for southeast Marion County, a dispatcher announced that the warning was for the northeast rather than southeast part of the county, even though she seemed to realize her error when she haltingly added “locations impacted include Peabody [long pause] Burns.”

Sheriff’s reaction

Asked Monday for his overall feelings about the dispatch department in light of current and past problems, Craft said he would “hold off comment on that right now.”

He did verify that the dispatch department was fully staffed, with eight full-timers working 12-hour shifts, two or three days in a row.

Others involved with emergency responses have privately expressed concern but declined to have their names attached to their comments.

In a lengthy anonymous letter, one person obviously close to the situation questioned dispatchers’ training and suitability and said police chiefs had raised the issue with Craft.

The note went on to allege that some emergency responders had been told not to question dispatchers under threat that assistance might not be dispatched to them when it was needed in the field.

None of these allegations could be verified, nor were any official responses to them solicited.


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Firefighters hone skills to save themselves

By Christopher Burnett
Fort Leavenworth Lamp – June 29, 2017

Photo by Prudence Siebert

More Pics

Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services participated in Firefighter Safety Stand Down week June 18-24 to focus on the on-the-job safety of individual firefighters.

Capt. Trent Strayer said the fire department developed specific training resources to address mayday, self-rescue and rapid intervention situations.

“We call in a mayday when a firefighter is in serious distress,” Strayer said. “He or she is trapped somewhere, lost or in a situation that is potentially life-threatening to self or another crew member.”

Strayer said the department uses standard procedures to summon a rapid intervention team to save firefighters in situations where self-rescue is not possible.

The entanglement training device simulated the space between the walls of a building, with electrical wiring and wooden studs. Another allowed firefighters to break through sheet rock to simulate finding an alternative escape route. Strayer said another was a fabricated high wall with a window to practice ladder evacuation.

“We constructed new props for use during the training this year because they wear out over time,” Strayer said. “A few of our firefighters built these items at home for us to use to simulate some of the physical conditions we are likely to encounter on the job.”

Firefighter Jeffrey Foster navigated the interior wall obstacle in full tactical uniform with mask and helmet. His air tank became entangled in the crossing electrical wires and then became stuck again at one of the joist openings. Upon getting himself free, he said it was important to remain calm and focused under those conditions.

“It’s 90 degrees today and we are inside this building. Wearing all of our gear during the training is important because it prepares you for the real thing,” Foster said. “You’re going to get stuck, but you have to keep your wits by thinking your way through the process of navigating free or calling in a mayday.”

Foster said the controlled environment of the training was also useful because it afforded individual practice, group peer evaluation and mentoring from more experienced firefighters. He said firefighters deploy in pairs and work together to overcome issues.

“Having the verbal reinforcement of when to use a particular technique is important, too,” Foster said. “It helps you know that your choice of using a ‘swim’ or ‘arm-over’ was best for getting by a particular obstacle.”

Strayer said the trainer designed to represent confined spaces was intended to put realistic stress on firefighters. He said knowing what to do in a given situation and when to ask for intervention were critical skills for each member of the department to possess.

“Knowing when to call in a mayday is crucial. This obstacle assists our training by putting each of us in a position to use standardized techniques. It presses our physical limitations at times,” Strayer said.

Firefighter Bryant Hall, who has been with the department for two years, said safety training is necessary because it teaches them what to do in situations where their physical well-being is in jeopardy. He was the second to go through the confined space obstacle and said it was challenging.

“You are going to have limited visibility most of the time in a real situation like that, too, so it’s all about working the problem out in your head and keeping focused. Rely on the training,” Hall said. “We train regularly covering various emergency scenarios, but this week of training is unique because it is devoted to a firefighter’s safety while responding to emergencies.”

Firefighter Caleb Cribb said his goal was to navigate the obstacle by staying with basic techniques taught during the training. He said his goal was to look for ways to navigate the wires and find the best way through the joist opening.

“Situational awareness and understanding our options are two things I have learned from this. I also learned by watching the other firefighters stay focused while going through a training simulation,” Cribb said. “In an actual situation, there would be many distractions like smoke, fire and extreme heat. We would usually have tools that we’d use to cut any wires.”

Capt. Rob Dokos said the overall objective for the week was for the department to train personnel in firefighter rescue procedures and firefighter survival tactics. He said the four areas covered during the week showed everyone how to call in a mayday, how to disentangle themselves from obstacles, how to breach a wall, and how to move on stairs most safely.

“The whole fire department came together and we built these training props to simulate four common situations,” Dokos said. “This particular training builds confidence by equipping firefighters with tools to deal with personnel safety-related situations.”


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Brick outbuilding destroyed by fire Wednesday

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – June 28, 2017

Photo by Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office.

Photo by Phil Anderson

Photo by Phil Anderson

Fire caused substantial damage to a brick outbuilding late Wednesday morning just southwest of Topeka.

The fire was reported at 11:39 a.m. on property at 6540 S.W. Urish Road.

An investigator from the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene early Wednesday afternoon to determine the cause of the blaze.

No injuries were reported in the fire, and two of three dogs that had been in the structure were reported to have been located. However, a third dog hadn’t surfaced as of early Wednesday afternoon.

The Auburn Fire Department and Mission Township Fire Department responded to the scene.

First-arriving crews found flames and heavy smoke coming from the structure, which was located about 25 yards northeast of a one-story house on the property.

A mixture of water and compressed air foam was used to put out the fire.

Auburn Fire Department Chief Scott Hunt said at the scene that no utilities were hooked up to the property at the time of the blaze.

Jeff Hamilton, of Topeka, said he was the first person who noticed the fire. Hamilton said he had been at the property earlier Wednesday morning, helping friends move items out of the building and “clean up the place” before he went to Auburn.

“I came back in about an hour and it was on fire,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know why. I have no idea why.”

He said when he returned to the property and saw the building ablaze, he immediately grabbed a garden hose and tried to put out the fire, but it was no use.

“Once that roof caught on fire, it was done,” he said. “Those asphalt shingles just went up. I looked down the hallway and it was just nothing but an orange inferno, all the way to the back, unfortunately. It was a nice little cabin.”

A black, brown and white Beagle dog was missing early Wednesday afternoon from the property. The dog’s name was Wego.

Two other dogs, a Chihuahua named Lady and a German Shepherd-mix named Cujo, had been found safe.

According to the Shawnee County Appraiser’s Office website, the property at 6540 S.W. Urish Road is owned by the Mike and Lisa Engler Family Trust. The 2017 value of the property — including the one-story house and brick outbuilding — was listed at $138,400.


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Osawatomie celebrates life of past fire chief

By Charity Keitel
Miami County Republic – June 28, 2017

Joyce Maxwell (left) received an American Flag in honor of her deceased husband James “Jim” Maxwell, who served Osawatomie in various capacities for much of his life. Joyce and her son James, Jr. (right) were among several community members celebrating Jim’s life June 9 at Memorial Hall. Photos by Osawatomie Fire Department.

Joyce Maxwell (left) received an American Flag in honor of her deceased husband James “Jim” Maxwell, who served Osawatomie in various capacities for much of his life. Joyce and her son James, Jr. (right) were among several community members celebrating Jim’s life June 9 at Memorial Hall.

Osawatomie fire and police personnel gathered June 9 at Memorial Hall to celebrate the life of resident James “Jim” Maxwell, who died earlier this year.

Maxwell died Feb. 8 at 78 years old. Osawatomie Fire Chief Brian Love said not only was Maxwell a hard worker but he was also a great friend and community member, who was always willing to lend a helping hand above and beyond the call of duty.

Best known in Osawatomie for his work at the Osawatomie State Hospital (OSH) in the maintenance department, his efforts to start up the city’s ambulatory service in the 1970s and his time on the Osawatomie Fire Department, Maxwell also spent time on his days off lending a hand to city crews for various maintenance works around Osawatomie.

Love said serving the community was Maxwell’s life work. He served for more than 46 years at OSH and worked at the fire department from 1971 to his retirement in 2003. Much of his time at the fire department was spent as Osawatomie’s Fire Chief.

“He was committed to the city of Osawatomie and to the people of the city,” Love said. “He would get up and go out and help with repairs on just about anything, even city repairs. He just wanted to help, to do his part. And he grew the fire department significantly during his 10 years as Chief. In fact, during his time as chief, the department began moving into rescue. That was a difficult transition, which he handled well.”

Love said Maxwell was well-liked and respected by the community members as well as the surrounding area fire departments, and during the celebration of life at Memorial Hall, all of the fire chiefs from the nearby area within Miami County were in attendance.

Maxwell’s family has decided to continue what he started through his life of commitment to the community and fire department by making several contributions to the department’s planned improvement project at the fire station.

Love said the city has plans to extend the fire department’s space into the electric/utility shop, which is in the same building as the fire department. This expansion is planned for next year after the electric shop is moved to its new location.

With the expansion will come increased space for fire department trucks as well as a training room, which Love says will be extremely beneficial to the firefighters and other fire department personnel.

Love said Maxwell’s family also donated their collection of scrapbooks, photos and several antiques to the fire department for display.

Maxwell is survived by his wife Joyce, his son James Jr. and his daughters Janine and Joy as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


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Emergency medical response focus of Buhler meeting

By John Green
Hutchinson News – June 28, 2017

An effort to resuscitate a quicker emergency medical response for the Buhler area will be a primary topic of discussion Thursday when the Reno County Commission holds a special meeting in Buhler.

The community of 1,300 northeast of Hutchinson discontinued its ambulance service in early 2014 due to a declining number of trained volunteers, going instead to a first responder system backed by Reno County EMS in Hutchinson.

Since that time, however, said Reno County EMS Chief Terry David, the number of first response volunteers answering calls in the area has also fallen off, resulting in delayed response on emergency medical calls.

Officials have cited at least two cases since January where individuals died before an ambulance, coming from Hutchinson, arrived. In both cases, however, David noted, first responders were on scene.

David, who started as Reno County’s EMS director last summer, believes there are enough volunteers in the area to provide a reliable first responder system – if they can maintain training and not get burned out by having just a few dedicated individuals respond to every call.

“It was much like Pretty Prairie and Haven,” David said. “They had their own ambulance and their own (operating) license. As I understand it, it was all volunteer. A shortage of volunteers eventually made them make the tough decision to fold the service. It is not just a Buhler problem. It’s a problem all over the county.”

While reviewing EMS response around the county late last year, David said, he broached the subject with the mayor and area fire chief of reactivating first responders in the Buhler area.

“If we have a resident over there with a major medical problem, the outcome is not going to be good,” he said. “They have some first responders, but it’s not an organized group.”

“I think the community over there is on board with this,” he said. “They’ve purchased an AED (automated external defibrillator) on my recommendation. Now they are getting pagers for medical issues, so when they get a page now it is our CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system. I think the follow-up we need to do now is get some training and we’re getting that set up for after the first of July.”

Reno County EMS made 124 ambulance calls to the Buhler area last year, though a significant number may have been to the nursing home there, which has its own medical staff, David said.

Restoring a full ambulance service, David said, would likely cost the community “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“My recommendation is a robust first response group, with the right equipment to respond and start treatment,” he said.

The News was unable to reach Buhler Mayor Daniel Friesen for comment.

“I have some full-time people that live over there, who are invested in the community and are more than willing to help,” David said. “But they don’t want the entire responsibility. In fact, when I was in Rice County, I had a young lady who sold her house and moved away from the community because everyone expected her to be on every call.”


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Truck driver dies in rollover accident

Hutchinson News – June 28, 2017

A semi driver from Indiana died in a single-vehicle rollover crash Tuesday night in Ness County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported Justin D. Leighty, 41, of Warsaw, Indiana, was northbound on County Road C about 9:40 p.m. when, for unknown reasons, his 2001 International truck ran off the left side of the roadway.

The truck returned to the roadway, but then overturned, rolling once and ejecting the driver.

The wreck happened about 3 miles south of K-96, which was 2.5 miles south of the city of Beeler.

The KHP report states notification family received notification at the scene about 20 minutes after the accident.


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Olathe firework hazard simulation shows realistic consequences of playing with fire

Kansas City Star – June 28, 2017

The Olathe Fire Department used a watermelon to demonstrate how powerful fireworks can be as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.

Video717 & Article


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Ricky Dean Spencer

Ricky Dean Spencer, 60, of Mound Valley, died at 1:14 P.M., Monday, June 26, 2017 at the K.U. Medical Center in Kansas City. Among survivors is his wife, Darlene, of the home.

He was born May 24, 1957 at Parsons, a son of Ernest C. and Ione (Meeks) Spencer. He grew up in Altamont and attended school there, graduating from the Labette County High School in 1976.

He was united in marriage to Darlene Myers of Dennis on June 9, 1978 at Mound Valley. The couple lived two years in Parsons and settled in Mound Valley in 1978. He was first employed at a printing company located in Miami, OK from 1976 until 1978. He then began working at the Flesh Company at Parsons and was currently employed there. He also worked many years for Byrd’s Auction Service and farmed land he owned.

He was a member of the Mound Valley Christian Church. For many years he volunteered with the Mound Valley Fire Department, Station 785. He enjoyed being outside and attending to his farm animals and his dog, Lady. He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.

In addition to his wife, survivors include: two daughters and sons in-law – Gretta and David Byrd, Mound Valley, KS, Jeanna and Clay Diediker, Parsons, KS; one son – Shane Spencer and companion, Jenna Oram, Dennis, KS; eleven grandchildren – Chasity and Byrce Byrd, Mound Valley, KS, Annie Spencer, Dennis, KS, Hallie Johnson, Parsons, KS, Brady, Sheldon Landyn, Shaylee, Aubrey and Krislyn Diediker, Parsons, KS; his mother – Ione Spencer, Altamont, KS; four brothers and sisters in-law – Bill and Denise Spencer, Altamont, KS, Bob and Pam Spencer, Bartlett, KS, Randy and LeAnn Spencer, Altamont, KS, Charles and Renee Spencer, Welch, OK; one sister – Shirley Carson, Parsons, KS; one half-brother and sister in-law – Marvin and Susie Spencer, Wichita, KS.

He was preceded in death by his father – Ernest Spencer, two half-sisters – Evelyn Towner and Geraldine Stotts; and a half-brother – Myrle Spencer.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 A.M., Friday, June 30, 2017 at the Mound Valley Christian Church with Pastor Stuart Ward and Rev. Marty Warren officiating. Burial will be in the Harmony Grove Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 6:00 until 8:00 Thursday at the church. Friends may call at the CARSON-WALL FUNERAL HOME after 8:00 A.M., Thursday. Memorials are suggested to the Mound Valley Fire Department and may be left at or mailed to the funeral home, P.O. Box 942, Parsons, KS 67357. Online condolences may be left at


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Driver killed in rollover accident on Hwy. 75

By Kion Hudson
WIBW – June 28, 2017

Photo by Kion Hudson

Authorities say a driver was killed when his vehicle rolled on Highway 75 in Osage County early Tuesday afternoon.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says a driver was northbound just before 1:30 p.m., when his SUV blew a tire just south of the Shawnee County line.

KHP says the vehicle swerved to the right and rolled, throwing the driver, Eric Lucas, 56 of Redfield, out of the vehicle.

KHP says Lucas was not wearing a seat belt and was killed.

His passenger, Amanda Lucas, 53 was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. KHP says she was wearing a seatbelt.


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Severy home destroyed in Saturday night fire

Eureka Herald – June 21, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – June 27, 2017

A Severy home was heavily damaged when a fire started during a thunderstorm, at approximately 11:19 p.m.

Severy Fire Department responded to the scene where they found heavy fire involvement in the home and requested assistance from the Eureka Fire Department. An occupant of the residence was home at the time of the fire and suffered smoke inhalation but was treated and released by Greenwood County EMS.

According to Eureka City Fire Chief Doug Williams, firefighters were able to bring the fire under control within an hour, but were on scene for several hours putting out areas of fire extension throughout the second floor and attic areas. One firefighter was transported by EMS for heat exhaustion.

The owner of the property is Lueoda Brown. The cause of the fire is under review at this time.


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New and expanded programs of study for fall 2017

By Rachel McMaster
Hesston College – June 27, 2017

Hesston College students will have more programs of study and course options from which to choose when classes resume in August. The newest program additions and expansions are among at least 13 new or expanded programs that have been added to the list of more than 50 offered programs of study in the last three years.

In an effort to continually meet student needs and interests, the college is adding two new programs of study starting in fall 2017 – emergency management and sports ministry – and offering expanded, more transferable courses in five existing programs – aviation, biology, graphic design, engineering and theatre.

“We say that Hesston students ‘start here’ and ‘go everywhere,’ but our students are increasingly coming from everywhere and going everywhere,” said Brent Yoder, vice president of Academics. “These new courses and programs will help satisfy the interests of students and prepare them well to transfer to a wide variety of institutions or to immediately begin their careers.”

The new emergency management program will operate in cooperation with the City of Hesston Emergency Services Department. Students in the program will be selected through an interview process to work part-time with Hesston EMS while completing coursework to earn Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and/or Firefighter certification. For students selected to the program, the coursework and fees for the EMT and Firefighter certifications will be paid for by Hesston EMS with a one-year student commitment to the department once certified.

“Hesston Fire/EMS is excited to partner with Hesston College to offer an amazing community service opportunity for students and also fill a critical need for firefighters and emergency medical responders in our department,” said Russ Buller, City of Hesston director of emergency services. “This collaboration provides a chance for students to experience meaningful and rewarding situations providing help to others in their time of need while not compromising their college experience. For our community, this program helps address the constant need for qualified emergency responders.”

The other new program addition, sports ministry, prepares students to plan, direct and initiate church-based or community recreation programs and equips students to use recreation and sports as a tool for outreach in the community. The curriculum focuses on courses in both physical education and Bible and ministry as students are provided a biblical and theological foundation for ministry through sports.

In addition to the new programs, new course offerings are being added to programs associated with aviation, biology, graphic design, engineering and theatre to give students smoother transitions into four-year programs or the career.

The college’s aviation program received FAA approval in December 2016 to offer Reduced Airplane Transport Pilot (R-ATP), which allows graduates of Hesston’s program to apply for the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate after 1,250 hours of flight time instead of the 1,500 hours typically required by the FAA. The change in the program will allow Hesston aviation graduates to more quickly climb the career ladder.

The course expansions in the remaining programs were added or revamped to better fit general course requirements in those programs at both private and public four-year programs nationwide, improving the transferability of courses from Hesston to other higher education institutions programs.

Over the last three years, other new programs added to the lineup, and which continue to grow, have been criminal and restorative justice, exercise science, leadership and baccalaureate degree nursing.


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Fire Destroys New Cambria Home

KSAL – June 27, 2017

Photos by Saline County Sheriff’s Office

A gas powered generator is being blamed for a fire that destroyed a home and killed 3 dogs in New Cambria late Monday night.

Saline County Undersheriff Brent Melander tells KSAL News that just before midnight, crews from RFD #7 were called to fight a residential fire at 100 E. 1st Street in New Cambria.

Melander says gusty winds from a storm had knocked the power out at the home of 63-year-old Jerry Hedges, Kathene Hedges, 54 and Carol Weiss, 71. A generator was brought into the home to run a number of electrical items before the three went to sleep in second floor bedrooms.

A short time later the lights began to dim and the smoke detector sounded. Kathlene walked downstairs and discovered a small fire in the exhaust system of the generator.

She was able to wake Jerry and Carol and the three escaped the growing blaze.

Three of their four dogs perished in the fire that completely destroyed the home.

While Kathene and Carol both suffered from breathing smoke, Jerry Hedges was treated for smoke inhalation by EMS at the scene but did not go to the hospital.

The house is valued between $170,000 to $180,000.

The American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist with clothing and shelter for the family.


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Fire department building coming along

Herington Times – June 22, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – June 27, 2017

Construction is under way on a new building to house three trucks and other equipment owned by the Grandview Township (Delavan) Fire Department. Fire Chief Kevin Miller said the project to construct a 42-by-60-foot metal-sided building was started in January. Tentative plans are to have the work completed by September. A Herington contractor has done most of the work. However, fire department volunteers also have been and will continue to be involved, he said. Approximate construction cost is $60,000.00 with monies coming from the Firefighters Relief Fund and bank loans, Miller said. There are 12 men and women listed on the volunteer roster for the department, he noted.


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Topeka man arrested after early morning apartment fire

By Brian Dulle
KSNT – June 27, 2017

One person was arrested Tuesday after an early morning apartment fire near downtown Topeka.

The Topeka Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire located at 1301 SW Harrison Street just after 12:30 a.m. When crews arrived they could see light smoke coming from an apartment complex. TFD said quick actions by those inside the complex led to the fire being put out quickly and kept it from spreading.

According to officials, one person was treated and released for minor injuries as a result of the fire.

An investigation into the fire indicated the fire started on the exterior deck/walkway of the apartment complex outside of apartment A21. The cause of the fire has been classified as arson.

With the help of the Topeka Police Department, investigators were able to identify a suspect. William Dean Foster, 37, of Topeka was arrested and booked into the Shawnee County jail for aggravated arson. According to his booking report, Foster was a resident at the apartment where the fire took place.

The fire caused an estimated $4,700 in damages.


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Shawnee County, KS, Take Twin Tanker/Pumpers

Firehouse – June 27, 2017


Unit Type: Pumper/Tanker
Year: 2017
Manufacturer: Toyne, Inc.
Chassis Manufacturer:
Model: T-800 Two-door cab 6×4
Engine: Cummins ISX 12 450-hp engine
Transmission: Allison 4500EVS
Pump: Hale Qmax-XS 1,500-gpm
Tank: 3,000-gallon
Generator: Onan 8,000-watt hydraulic
Aerial: NA

Shawnee Heights, KS, Fire District recently contracted Toyne, Inc. to engineer two pumper-tanker trucks for their growing fleet. The two new Toyne apparatus, have bolted, painted stainless steel bodes, mounted on Kenworth T800 two-door 6×4 cabs and chassis. They are powered by Cummins ISX 12 450-hp engines and Allison 4500EVS transmissions. To fight fire,they have Hale QMax-XS 1,500-gpm pumps and 3,000-gallon UPF tanks. Other equipment includes Onan 8,000-watt hydraulic generators, Fire Research telescoping lights, Zico hydraulic 3,500-gallon portable tank racks, The fire district provides fire and rescue operations, water rescue and first responder medical services to the residents of Topeka, Monmouth, and Williamsport Townships in southeast Shawnee County. The district has three stations staffed by full-time personnel supplement by part-time staff. It is the third most populated county in Kansas.


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Fire damages home in S. Wichita

KWCH – June 27, 2017

Wichita fire crews are looking for a cause after an early-morning house fire in S. Wichita.

Crews were called to the home in the 1500 block of S. Meridian early Tuesday morning. They found smoke and flames coming from the building.

No one was home at the time, though the homeowner did arrive while crews were on the scene.

Fire officials say the house suffered considerable damage and is no longer livable

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to other homes.

No one was hurt.


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Collision sends car into church

Pittsburg Morning Sun – June 27, 2017

Photos by Chance Hoener. Click on each photo to view full-size.

A two-car collision Saturday ended with a sedan inside the a portion of the LifeChangers Church.

According to the Pittsburg Police Department, units were dispatched simultaneously to a report of a wreck at the intersection of 6th and Broadway, and an alarm at LifeChangers Church — located at 7th and Broadway — at approximately 2:22 p.m.

Officers learned the alarm at LifeChangers Church was a result of the wreck at 6th and Broadway. According to PPD, Judy Wood was in the process of turning northbound onto Broadway in her 2000 Chrysler 300 when a 2008 Dodge Ram pickup failed to stop at the intersection and hit her. The pickup was driven by Alfred Snowden, and carrying Kelly Castagnola as a passenger.

The collision caused Wood’s car to travel northbound on Broadway and veer east into the private drive of LifeChangers Church. The car drove through the south side of the church and into the building where it came to a stop.

Wood’s vehicle lost fluids and parts along Broadway and witnesses reported that her airbags deployed, but this was not stated in the report from PPD. The pickup sustained damage to the front bumper.

Drivers and passengers were treated by Crawford County EMS on scene, and Wood was transported to Via Christi Hospital for further treatment.

Pittsburg Fire Department also responded to both locations.

The incident is still under investigation by PPD.


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Fire Severely Damages Russell Home

By David Elliott
KRSL – June 26, 2017

A house on Cindy Drive in Russell was severely damaged by a fire Sunday evening.

According to the Russell City Fire Department, at 6:28 PM Sunday, a woman from 110 Cindy Drive called 911 to report the split-level house next to her at 112 Cindy Drive had smoke coming out of the roof.

The Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire, but remained on scene for about three hours.

According to Russell City Fire Chief Shane Preston, the fire started in the kitchen due to some type of electrical issue with the microwave cord or outlet it was plugged in to. The blaze quickly spread from there and damaged or destroyed much of the home’s contents.

Preston estimated total fire, smoke and water damage at $100,000.

The residents, Brian and Kayla Schneider, were not home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. However, two dogs died as a result of smoke inhalation.

Along with City Fire, Russell County EMS, the Russell Police Department, the Russell County Sheriff’s Office and Russell County Emergency Management responded.

Rotary Rescue also responded with water and snacks.


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Front Porch Arson Investigation

KSAL – June 26, 2017

An arson investigation is underway after a man awakened to find his front porch on fire Sunday in west Salina.

Police Captain Paul Forrester tells KSAL News that 25-year-old Malcolm Norris heard his home smoke alarm sound at 5:15am Sunday morning and ran downstairs to discover a fire just outside his front door.

Police say the suspicious fire damaged the front door, vinyl siding and roof of the porch causing over $1,000 in damages.

Norris was the only person in the dwelling and was not hurt.

The rental house is located at 918 W. South Street and is owned by Carol Viar of Salina.


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Small town works together to end population bust

By Larry Dreiling
High Plains Journal – June 26, 2017

Photo by Larry Dreiling. Click on photo to view full-size.

Ever since westward expansion, settlement and creation of states allowed for the great population centers being the magnets for rural areas. Soon the immediate boom that statehood created during and after the Civil War led to bust—primarily after settlers realized there would usually be drought years following the rainy years that enticed them to move.

The High Plains has seen its share of declining rural population in agricultural counties. The question has been how to bring new generations of settlers who will, instead of pulling up stakes when bad weather occurs, bring diverse skills to establish new businesses or help grow existing ones to in turn bring renewal to these communities.

For decades, Quinter, Kansas, in Gove County, was typical of the declining community. While miles away from a tiny county seat, it had a small but sturdy population along Interstate 70.

Or so people thought.

When the results of the U.S. Census of 2010 were released, it showed Quinter with a 4.5 percent population decline to 918 people. That number paled in comparison to Gove County’s overall population decline of 12.2 percent compared with 2000.

Ericka Nicholson had just been appointed the new city administrator of Quinter at that time.

“Those census figures were crippling,” Nicholson said. “However, this created a perfect storm for us. We had a city council locked and loaded to stop the population loss along with an administration with the experience and connections out to end the loss of our greatest resource, our people. Together we said that the next census can look bad or it can look better. So far, the census estimates look far better.”

Indeed. According to U.S. Census Bureau 2015 estimates, Quinter’s population saw a 3.3 percent increase to 948. This has helped staunch the overall bleeding of Gove County’s population, with the 2015 estimate indicating the population has fallen by 3.9 percent, its smallest decline since the county was first officially measured in the 1880 census.

What increased Quinter’s population is a combination of developing new businesses through a revolving loan fund created by the sale of a factory building given to the city following the factory’s closing, along with a combination of strong local financial leadership, dedicated city and county employees, strong-willed advocates in local charitable foundations and tied together with a city council willing to trust Nicholson to help solicit federal, state and regional grants to develop new civic infrastructure that promotes a lifestyle welcoming to workers in all lines of work.

“I need to give all the credit to my progressive city council,” Nicholson said. “If you look at what has happened in Quinter since May of 2010, more good things have happened here since than in the previous 50 years. I attribute that to the mayor and city council. I am the extension of the wishes of those five people, but you have to bring in the ideas and have the connections to make things happen in order to be a catalyst for positive change.

“The flag we used to fly was ‘Look what we’ve done without any kind of economic development.’ I don’t want that to be our claim to fame any more,” Nicholson said. “One of the things I had to do was educate people who said we don’t want or need help. They didn’t understand these things were coming from our tax dollars anyway.”

The first project Nicholson pursued was the construction of a new facility for the Quinter Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department using a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant. The REDLG program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations.

USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities that they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (the ultimate recipient in this case being the city of Quinter) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The ultimate recipients repay the lending utility directly. The utility is responsible for repayment to USDA.

USDA provides grants to local utility organizations that use the funding to establish revolving loan funds. Loans are made from the revolving loan funds to projects that will create or retain rural jobs. When the revolving loan fund is terminated, the grant is repaid to USDA.

“That zero-percent loan saved us $81,000 over 10 years. We worked with our partners at Midwest Energy. It’s not a grant, but it’s the next best thing to free money,” Nicholson said. “We could never have pulled it off without that loan. We went from having a very tight space to having a facility that allows us to store more equipment and do more things to increase our fire protection abilities.”

The City has also used industrial revenue bonds—along with $850,000 in private financing—to develop a Cobblestone Inn and Suites off I-70, along with a low-income housing grant through the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation to build four new duplex homes.

“We just received $400,000 to pave a new $525,000 road in anticipation of a new $2.9 million housing development. That is the first new street in Quinter in 25 years,” Nicholson said. “We’ve passed a neighborhood revitalization plan and just received a $250,000 special facilities Community Development Block Grant to build our new baseball field.

“We hope to have all the paperwork done soon to begin construction in time for next baseball season. We have a nice softball field and a beautiful youth league field but not a Legion type field. We weren’t serving an entire segment of our youth population.”

The city also has received grants from Midwest Energy, the Porter Trust and the Dane G. Hansen Foundation via Gove County to build a new pool house for the municipal swimming pool.

“The only city tax increase we’ve had since I came back in 2010 was a mill levy increase in 2012 on the Jay Johnson Public Library to the top of their ceiling, which is two mills,” Nicholson said. “That means an average house saw an increase of about $20, but who’s going to argue over a library?”

And when you ask about health care, Nicholson transforms from administrator to volunteer emergency medical technician.

“We just saved money for 10 years and now we’re going to be able to afford a monster sized all-terrain ambulance,” Nicholson said.

Gove County Medical Center, with a substantial number of quality doctors and mid-level professionals caring for a large catchment area of Kansas, is a point of pride for city residents.

Last August, Gove County learned it would receive $1.96 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Kansas Airport Improvement Program to build a concrete runway, taxiway, apron and access road for an improved airport in Quinter. This is on top of $652,000 in Kansas Department of Transportation grants for land acquisition.

The Gove County Healthcare Endowment Foundation, which helps fund projects for the Gove County Medical Center, has pushed for the airport grant for years. The foundation donated $270,000 to equip the runway.

“While anyone will be able to use it, this will be primarily for use by air ambulance service,” Nicholson said. “We’ve been taking patients who need air transport to WaKeeney or Oakley because we don’t have the proper airport. Now, these people will get direct treatment in Denver or other places like Shriners Hospital in Texas for burn victims with no long drive.

“But understand, this is that perfect storm of people, with the County, the City, the foundation, all working together to get things accomplished. We have these trusting relationships with each other to make good things happen.”

Nicholson said civic leaders should remember that return on investment is more than money. Instead, focus on the returns of bringing new business and people to a community.

“This shouldn’t be competition. We want our friends in other cities to get those funds, too,” Nicholson said. “People have seen our success here, and really, we’ve helped to make something that isn’t unique to Quinter. Just down the road, at Grainfield. They’ve built a new fire station with the same type of grant we used.

“If you don’t apply, these foundations and legislators and members of Congress will say why aren’t they being used and stop offering them. I think it’s a matter of not knowing the funding is out there.”

Quinter may be adding two new businesses soon. After years as a dry community, the city is now looking forward to seeing the opening of a new restaurant that will also serve liquor. The town has a space for liquor store, creating an ever-fuller Main Street.

“Those will be things people in town look forward to seeing,” Nicholson said.


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One dead, 4 injured after rollover in Butler Co.

KSN – June 26, 2017


One person is dead after a rollover accident in Butler County Saturday afternoon.

The accident left one person seriously injured as well as three people with minor injuries.

The crash happened just before 5:00 p.m. near US 77 and Southwest 100th Street near Leon.

Officials said a Chevy Impala crossed the street in front of a Suburban going the opposite way. The passenger of the Impala was pronounced dead at the scene and the driver was transported for injuries.

The family is still being notified of the death. Authorities aren’t releasing any names, but they were not Butler County residents.

Due to the accident traffic has been closed on 100th Street east of US 77.


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No one home during evening blaze

Hutchinson News – June 26, 2017

Photo by Travis Morisse. Click on photo to view full-size.

A home in the 3100 block of North Hendricks is a total loss after a fire roared through the single-story dwelling just before 6 p.m. Friday, the Hutchinson Fire Department said.

The rear of the home was completely charred as firefighters grappled to get the flames under control. According to a press release, it took about 45 minutes to contain the fire and a firefighter was knocked down when the ceiling collapsed.

The firefighter was evaluated and released by Reno County EMS at the scene.

The release says no one was home at the time of the fire; the cause remains unknown and is under investigation.


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One person dies after vehicle is airborne and strikes light pole

KWCH – June 26, 2017

Kansas Highway Patrol says one person has died after their vehicle went airborne and struck a light pole.

The accident happened in Johnson County on I-435 around noon Friday.

According to KHP, the driver of the first vehicle was attempting to change lanes and struck another vehicle in the other lane. The driver of the first vehicle over-corrected after the initial crash, sending their vehicle into the air.

The vehicle struck a light pole in the median of the highway.

The names of the victims have not been released and no other information has been given at this time.


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Firefighters bring prevention fun to Hopp’s Sno Shack

By Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder
McPherson Sentinel – June 26, 2017

Hopp’s Sound & Electric will be the hottest spot on the block June 29 — literally.

The McPherson Fire Department will host “Fireworks with a Fireman” from 4 to 10 p.m. June 29 as part of the Concerts for a Cause series at Hopp’s, located at 214 E. Euclid St. in McPherson. The event takes a step away from the weekly fundraising concert standard by offering a full slate of fire prevention activities and several live demonstrations.

“One of the most potentially hazardous times of the year is the Fourth of July. It has a unique potential because there’s a lot of youth involvement, so we want to get our fire prevention message out to the public right when a lot of kids are going to be messing with what are essentially explosive devices,” said TJ Wyssman, division chief with the McPherson Fire Department. “We know it’s going to happen, so we want to make sure those kids are lighting these fireworks safely and that no one gets hurt this year.”

The event is based off a similar demonstration held last fall, but with several new additions.

“The McPherson Fire Department and Jason Neighbors with Farm Bureau Insurance were looking for a way to spread fire safety and prevention in an interactive way with kids and families. I attended that event last year and instantly wanted to be a part of it. I love what the event was contributing to the community with smoke detectors and thought it fit in perfectly with the mission behind Concerts for a Cause,” said Brian Hopp, coordinator of Concerts for a Cause. “There is a ton going on that night. As our group got together, the ideas starting flowing, and it just got bigger and better.”

Activities include a giant bounce house, a dunk tank and concessions, like sno cones, popcorn and snacks from the Tacos Portales food truck. Those wearing swimming gear might try out the kid car wash, where children act as the cars getting “washed” under the sprinklers. Zach Batson, worship pastor at Journey Mennonite Church in McPherson, will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. for the music portion of the concert series.

The fire department will also offer demonstrations for young people in properly lighting fireworks, just in time for Independence Day.

“These fireworks are primarily made in China, they’re low quality and they’re stored in crates for a long time. When they get to the end user, they might not be a superior product,” Wyssman explained. “So following the directions, not holding roman candles, those basic things can prevent injury. We’ll also talk about why we’ve banned sky lanterns and metal sparklers, and we’ll talk about some of the basic stuff we respond to every year. When a kid lights a firework, we don’t want them to run with the punk because we see a lot of burn injuries on their faces and arms, so we’ll show them how to do it safely.”

Adults might want to check out the fire extinguisher demonstrations, where residents can practice using an extinguisher on a fire outside of an emergency situation.

“We’ll talk about maintenance, so you can use them when you need to, where to position them and we’ll also teach people how to use them so they understand that there’s not a lot of pressure behind them,” Wyssman said. “Fire extinguishers are meant to be egress aids, they’re not meant for you to stay inside the structure to fight the fire. A lot of people have their extinguishers placed by the exit, that’s not a wise decision because if you’re already at the exit, there’s no need to grab the extinguisher. Just get out of the building and let the fire department do their job. If they’re in core locations in the building, you can fight your way through the fire to get out of the building.”

Attendees can also watch a demonstration of how residential sprinkler systems can fight home fires on two, room-sized modules.

Proceeds from the event will go to the department’s fire prevention budget, which is privately funded. Wyssman explained that prevention measures, like installing and maintaining smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, are key for saving lives.

“We have about 4,000 fire deaths every year in America. We’ve been battling that number since the 1970s and it hasn’t come down a lot since then,” Wyssman said. “Because fires happen at night, you need those smoke detectors because only your hearing is alert when you’re sleeping so you need that sound to wake up and get out of the structure.”

The McPherson Fire Department’s smoke detector program works to get smoke detectors into the homes of families that cannot afford them, and also ensure all smoke detectors in McPherson are functioning properly.

“We want to make it overwhelmingly easy to get these installed. We support the fact that they do save lives when they’re installed and working properly, but we know that up to 50 percent of them out there are not installed properly or they don’t have functioning batteries,” Wyssman said. “The program gives away smoke detectors to people who can’t afford them, and we’ll come install them correctly and make sure they’re working properly. We’ll also help out the elderly or those who need help changing the batteries or are unsure on how they work. If you can afford them, but can’t hang them, call us and we’ll set something up.”

Fireworks with a Fireman schedule of events

4 to 9 p.m.: bounce house for kids, a dunk tank, and a kid car wash (bring a swimming suit to run through the “car” wash). Concessions include the Tacos Portales food truck, sno cones, and popcorn.

5 p.m.: fire extinguisher class

6 p.m.: smoke detector information

7 to 9 p.m.: Zach Batson will playing the music for Concerts for a Cause

7:30 p.m.: house fire sprinkler demonstration

8:30 p.m. Fireworks with a Fireman safety talk


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1 killed in wrong-way crash early Saturday in KCK

KMBC – June 26, 2017

One person died in a wrong-way crash early Saturday in Kansas City, Kansas, police said.

The wreck was reported at 12:50 a.m. on I-635 near Leavenworth Road.

Police said a black SUV was heading south in the northbound lanes of I-635 and hit a black SUV heading north.

The driver of the wrong-way SUV was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the other SUV died at the scene.

Police said they are still investigating the accident.


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Kansas man dies after ATV crashes into power pole

By Bryan Horwath
Wichita Eagle – June 26, 2017

A Kansas man died Saturday after the ATV he was driving struck a power pole in northeast Kansas, according to a highway patrol crash report.

Alex D. Blow, 49, of Havensville was pronounced dead shortly after the crash. The accident happened at about 6:40 p.m. on Saturday near the intersection of Angus Road and Havensville Road west of Havensville in Pottawatomie County, the Kansas Highway Patrol report said.

Blow was driving a 1995 Polaris ATV westbound on Havensville Road when the vehicle entered the ditch and struck the pole. Havensville is about 50 miles northeast of Manhattan.


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Woman dies from injuries in Barton Co. crash

Hays Post – June 26, 2017

One person died from injuries in an accident just before 6:30p.m. Saturday in Barton County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 driven by Jared R. Petersilie, 39, Lacrosse, was eastbound on Northwest 190th Road four miles south of the Russell County line.

The truck ran a stop sign at U.S. 28 and collided with a northbound 2003 Ford Expedition driven by Fred L Adams, 77, Hays.

Petersilie, and Adams were transported to Clara Barton Hospital in Hoisington.

A passenger in the Expedition Janet L. Adams, 76, Larned, was transported to Wesley Medical Center where she died. All were properly restrained at the time of the accident, according to the KHP.


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John Mark Washburn

John Mark Washburn, 73, Auburn, passed away Sunday, June 25, 2017.

He was born July 20, 1943, in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, the son of Palmer and Elsie (Hannis) Washburn. He graduated from Bethlehem Center High School and attended Bacone College, William Jewell College and Washburn University.

In the early 1970’s John ran a Conoco Gas Station in Osage City. He was later employed with the Insurance Department for the State of Kansas, retiring in 2008. He volunteered for the Auburn Fire Department where he retired as a chief.

He was a member of Gage Park Baptist Church, where he served on the church board. He was also a member of ROMEO’s. He previously served on Auburn City Council and volunteered with the Patriot Guard.

John married one terrific lady, his best friend, Lois Haslett on May 21, 1965 in Topeka, Kansas. She survives. Other survivors include two daughters: Shari Washburn-Irish and Misti (Mark) Strole; brother, James (Katsuko) Washburn and five grandchildren: Brandyn Irish, Jordon Irish, Ryan Irish, Kaylene Strole and Hannah Strole.

Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at Gage Park Baptist Church. Interment will be at Penwell-Gabel Cemetery. Visitation will be Tuesday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Penwell-Gabel Mid-Town Chapel.

Memorial contributions may be made to Auburn Township Volunteer Fire Department, 110 SE 10th Ave, Auburn, KS 66402, NE Kansas Parkinson Association, PO Box 67342, Topeka, KS 66667or Gage Park Baptist Church, 3601 SW 10th Street, Topeka, KS 66604.


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RV fire shuts down parts of US-75

By Austin Barnes
KSNT – June 26, 2017

Photo by Benjamin Van Maele. Click on photo to view full-size.

Parts of US highway 75 reopened Sunday after a recreational vehicle caught fire.

Jackson County sheriff Tim Morse said the RV caught fire just north of 158th road and US-75 and was a total loss. Northbound lanes of the highway were closed for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The vehicle was owned by two people from Georgia. Both were unharmed.

Sheriff Morse told KSNT news there may have been an electrical issue. An official cause has not yet been determined.


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Rural Partridge family loses home in Saturday fire

By Adam Stewart
Hutchinson News – June 26, 2017

Photo by Hans Mast of Hans Mast Photography. Click on photo to view full-size.


A rural Partridge family lost their home in a fire Saturday, and now friends are seeking to raise money for costs that insurance won’t cover.

According to friend Hans Mast, Dwight Miller was working in a field and Karen Miller and their six children were at a brunch with extended family in Yoder when a fire started around 10:30 a.m. Saturday at their home north of Partridge.

Mast said the home itself was a complete loss, but some things were able to be salvaged from the basement, including homeschooling records.


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City works to find protection additions

By Larry Dreiling
High Plains Journal – June 23, 2017

When a county or municipality has a small budget, its councilors and administrators often become like scroungers to find anything they can to help make their town or county better.

The city of Quinter has taken advantage of federal programs and used receipts off a small loan fund to acquire items big cities would think nothing of paying top dollar to buy, fixing them up and putting them into service at relatively little cost.

Take added new fire protection equipment. Quinter makes full use of the Kansas Forest Service’s Federal Excess Property Program that assist rural municipalities acquire additional fire protection equipment. KFS obtains excess federal property—generally military vehicles such as all-wheel drive 5-ton trucks and fire equipment—which is then loaned to fire departments. The property remains under federal ownership. When no longer needed, a fire department returns the equipment to KFS for disposal.

“We’ve taken three surplus large trucks under the program, including a 5-ton water tanker, and fixed them up and put them into service here,” City Administrator Ericka Nicholson said. “We took the water tanker up to the Norton Correctional Facility, where they have a training program in auto body and paint work, and had them repaint the truck for the cost of the paint and all of two dozen donuts.”

Quinter dispatched that truck to March’s Jupiter Hills fire in Lane County.

Brad Wagoner, Quinter’s assistant fire chief, was responsible for locating those trucks, fixing them up, and making them ready for service.

“We bought the tank, and put it on the truck ourselves,” Wagoner said of his mostly volunteer force. “Then we went up to Norton and handed it over to the inmates to paint. After it was painted, we brought it back to add the lights and the siren.

“The Forest Service also helps get other equipment—hoses, fittings, couplings and things for our airpacks—at little or no cost. It’s a great program because we can get a lot for so little. And the labor after the painting on the truck is the kind of thing we do anyway to vehicles on an annual basis for maintenance. It wasn’t that much more work.”

Both Nicholson and Wagoner like to boast about the size and type of their recently acquired vehicle, as it was the only all-terrain truck of its size fighting the Jupiter Hills Fire.

“When you think about it, a brand new truck goes for $300,000, but we got it for about $200 and then outfitted it ourselves with a new 5,000-gallon tank and pump as well as lights and siren. We have maybe $25,000 in a $300,000 truck,” Nicholson said.

And the two add the same sentence.

“And two dozen donuts.”

Nicholson adds: “We’d have to substantially raise taxes to have the kind of fire protection we now have. We’ve gone from three trucks, including a 900-gallon pumper to having six trucks.”

One of the newest acquisitions for the city was an unmanned aerial system equipped with an infrared camera, used primarily for search and rescue operations, such as locating people during range fires. The drone also has been used to survey on behalf of Gove County for flood damage in order to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Police Chief Rodney Salyers has taken a class with the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center to operate the drone and has his Federal Aviation Administration certificate.

“Neighboring counties will call our guys and ask to use it. We recently used it in a building fire to check for hot spots on the tops of neighboring building,” Nicholson said.

Salyers said, “We’ve used it during range fires to check farm homes to see if anyone is in them. That, I think, will be a big reason for us being called out to use it, since the infrared camera will help us find everyone, that’s from lost children to fugitives.”

Adds Nicholson, “People will complain we spent $3,800 on a drone, but they don’t want to talk about our saving three quarters of million dollars on new fire equipment. I mean this with all respect, but it’s paid for itself.”


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Phillipsburg Fire Department receives donation of FIDO BAGS

Advocate of Phillips County – May 18, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – June 23, 2017

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, the Phillipsburg Fire Department received FIDO BAGS from Janeen Wallgren, through a donation from Lynn Wallgren memorial funds.

The Fetch Foundation’s FIDO BAG Program supplies firefighters with lifesaving tools to administer medical attention to your communities pets at the point of rescue.

“In cases such as fire or automobile accidents etc., firefighters need special tools on their trucks to save your four legged friends life just as they do for you,” states Marie Peck, founder of The Fetch Foundation. “Now first responders will have the tools to save all family members.”

“There is no doubt in my mind these firefighters will utilize this equipment and training. The community, both human AND animal, will thank them for it with an out-pouring of support and gratitude,” comments Peck. “It is especially gratifying to see equipment go to first responders that seek us out and understand the value the FIDO BAG program brings to the community they serve every day.”

The Fetch Foundation is a 501c3 organization. This unique nonprofit charity is dedicated to serve our community while saving you and your pets. The Fetch Foundation’s vision is have a FIDO BAG on every fire truck in the country starting in Phillipsburg and to provide rescue dogs an opportunity to be heroes in our community by rehoming and training for both K9 Search and Rescue teams as well as Military Veterans with PTSD.


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Sign at Fire Station dedicated to Bob Seefeldt

Ninnescah Valley News – May 19, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – June 23, 2017

Bob Seefeldt passed away this past January, leaving behind a legacy of volunteerism and dedication to this community. Seefeldt served on the emergency medical service and was a volunteer firefighter for 26 years; 19 of those 26 years as Fire Chief. His wife, Chris, and his daughters Wendy and Gillian all followed Bob’s lead.

“Bob and I had EMT1 certification,” Chris said. “And Gillian and Wendy took fire science classes; Gillian served on the Buhler EMS and Fire Department, Wendy volunteered in Haven. When you live in a small town you have to do everything you can to help your friends and neighbors.”

Twenty-one years ago Bob realized in order to keep the fire service and EMS viable they needed to expand. He began looking for property and drawing up plans.

“Bob had a drafting table in the basement,” said Chris, “and every night for months he was down there drawing, measuring. He checked out other fire stations. That fire station was his baby.”

Thursday evening, May 11, Chris and several family members joined the local firefighters at the station for the unveiling of a sign dedicated to Bob Seefeldt.

“Bob was the main architect and engineer,” said current Fire Chief Rick Graber. “He wanted it to be the most functional station possible. With his passing in January, the family had memorials sent to Fire and EMS. We decided to use some of that money to fund the sign in Bob’s honor.”

“It’s such a nice tribute. I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Chris said. “He wouldn’t have liked it, though. He would have thought the money should have gone for new fire equipment or something for the service. He was really proud of that station.”


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Junction City apartment catches fire Sunday

Junction City Daily Union – June 20, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – June 23, 2017

A apartment complex at 126 W. 16th St., caught fire Sunday evening.

Junction City firefighters found a four unit apartment complex with smoke coming from the common entry door of the structure.

Junction City police evacuated the complex. A quick fire attack from the first arriving Engine Company extinguished the fire. The structure was ventilated and the on-scene firefighters conducted salvage and overhaul operations to ensure no spread of the fire. The cause is under investigation.


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Manhattan Fire Department participate in a training exercise to save a downed firefighter on Thursday

Manhattan Mercury – June 23, 2017

Photos by Jackie Dobson. Manhattan Fire Department recruits are being briefed. Click on each photo to view full-size.

Recruits enter home to search for a mannequin.

Recruits pull dummy through doorway.


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Stephen R. Thome

Stephen R. Thome, age 65, ret.Wichita Fire Dept Captain, passed away Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Visitation, 9am-4pm, Tues, Webb-Shinkle Mortuary, Clearwater. Rosary, 7 pm, Tues. Funeral Mass, 10:30am, Wed, BOTH at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, Schulte.

Preceded by parents, John and Cecilia (Bell) Thome; brother, Tony P. Thome. Survivors: wife, Karen M. (Lane) Thome; children, Sundi (Bradley) Johnson of Conway Springs, Ryan (Lacy) Thome of Cheney, Malanee (Buddy) Brownell of Clearwater, Michelle Thome of Conway Springs, Natalie Thome of Brandon, FL; step-daughter, Shannan (Riki) Martin of Velma, OK; siblings, John (Darla) Thome, Sharon Patton, Marcelline Arnold, Jeannine (Dan) Goertz, all of Wichita, Natalie (Dan) Boughey of Ventura, CA, Loretta (Fred) Viramontes of Wellington, Tim (Patti) Thome of Clearwater;10 grandchildren.

Memorials: Firefighters Support Foundation, Inc, 40 School St, Ste 8, Greenfield, MA 01301.


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Investigators use drone at house fire

Columbus News Report – June 19, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – June 23, 2017

An early Friday morning fire caused significant damage to the home located on the southwest corner of Idaho and Maple streets.

Columbus firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 4:36 a.m. and arrived to find flames extruding from the south side roof.

The house was empty, the residents had moved out of the house earlier in the week.

After the fire was brought under control the State Fire Marshal was contacted and arrived at the scene around 8 a.m.

State Fire Marshal Eric Lawrence arrived with the latest in fire autopsy equipment. A photo drone, allowed him to get pictures from above the fire and close to the roof.

“This is just another tool in our tool box to assess the fire scene, said Kansas Fire Marshal Lawrence.


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Wichita Wingnuts First Responders and Military Appreciation

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Storms pass through SWKS, causing damage

By Josh Harbour
Garden City Telegram – June 23, 2017

Photo by Holcomb Fire Department. Click on photo to view full-size.

Summer thunderstorms bringing rain, hail, wind and lightning through southwest Kansas on Tuesday and Wednesday caused their share of damage.

Mick McGuire, National Weather Service meteorologist, told the Hutchinson News that the NWS received two reports of golf ball-sized hail falling near Ulysses on Wednesday. He said there were several reports of broken windshields and other property damage.

“Large hail and heavy rains, that’s a pretty good recipe for some damage, and that’s what Ulysses had,” Ray Burgert, meteorologist with the NWS in Dodge City, said Thursday.

Outside of Ulysses, the largest hail reports reported by the NWS in the region were 2.75-inch stones 9 miles south of Kendall in Hamilton County, and 2.5-inch stones in Scott County, about 9 miles north of Modoc.

Other reports included “ping pong to hen egg sized” stones at Scott State Lake and golf-ball-sized hail in Scott City, according to the Hutchinson News.

Burgert said Wednesday’s storm also produced 60 to 70 mph wind gusts. The NWS reported that high winds were reported in Finney, Grant and Kearny counties, breaking tree limbs and damaging Holcomb Middle School.

Garden City Fire Chief Allen Shelton said the Garden City Fire Department responded to seven fire calls on Tuesday and Wednesday related to the storms that passed through, with most of them in the southern and western parts of Finney County. The fires likely were caused by lightning, he said.

Fires ranged from grass, haystack, wheat stubble, and uncut wheat fires, Shelton said, adding that there were some haystacks that were lost to the fires, but the full monetary amount is not yet available as the GCFD is waiting to hear back from farmers.

Holcomb Community Fire Department Chief Bill Knight said on Thursday that there was a large hay fire west of Holcomb Wednesday night, likely caused by lightning, though it’s still under investigation.

“We don’t have an exact amount on how many hay bales were destroyed, but there were no injuries and nothing was damaged besides the hay,” Knight said.

Rainfall over the course of the two days varied across southwest Kansas, Burgert said, noting that the thunderstorms passing through on Tuesday dropped up to one inch an hour in some areas.

On Wednesday, some parts of southwest Kansas received three inches or more, Burgert said, while some areas received less than an inch. Areas in Scott and Grant counties received the most rainfall.

Thunderstorms returned to the region Thursday night, although rain totals were not available as of press time.

“The main threat (Thursday) will be strong winds, hail — not as big as what we’ve seen in the last couple of days. Winds are really going to be the main threat from the storms that develop tonight (Thursday),” Burgert said earlier in the day.

There will be a chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms on Friday, though they don’t look severe, said Burgert, adding that there’s a chance for more storms on Saturday and Sunday.


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JOCO firefighters battle smelly flames at waste transfer station

By Jessica Reyes
KCTV 5 – June 23, 2017

Video (FOX 4 News)

Firefighters in Johnson County battled a smelly fire at an Olathe business late Thursday evening.

The fire started about 10:30 p.m. at the City of Olathe’s Solid Waste Transfer Station, located near 151st Street and Lone Elm Road.

Crews battled the fire for nearly four hours, at one point putting out a flaming pile of trash that was 20-feet tall. They say the fire was contained to the facility.

Firefighters had to tear through mounds of trash, some as tall as 20 feet, to make sure the fire was completely out.

Investigators are working to determine the cause of the flames.

No injuries were reported during the fire. Teams are doing a damage assessment to see if any equipment or buildings were damaged.

“The nice part is, it’s not near any other structures and no one’s been hurt, absolutely no injuries,” Olathe Fire Captain Mike Hall said. “And, it’s a good place for us to work as far as space goes. We got plenty of water.”

Officials say a heat detector inside the building alerted them to the fire.

Hall says the weather Thursday night and into Friday morning was a concern for his crew.

“It’s very humid and a lot of the folks are still sweating, which is a good sign. They are sweating and we are trying to replace those fluids as best we can, check those vital signs, make sure everyone is doing well and watch out for each other,” Hall said.

Firefighters from Olathe, KS, Lenexa, KS, and Johnson County Fire District No. 1 battled the fire.

Firefighters and members of the Public Works Department worked closely throughout the incident. The Olathe Police Department and Johnson County Med-Act also assisted at the scene.

The Transfer Station is closed until further notice. However, regular trash and recycling services will operate as normally scheduled.


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