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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Smoke blamed on controlled burns

The Wichita Eagle

Emergency dispatchers said there were 60 controlled burns inside Sedgwick County on Thursday, which could have contributed to smoke that drifted across the city Thursday afternoon and evening.

A Butler County dispatcher said eight or nine controlled burns of more than 40 acres took place there Thursday, but none were reported out of control.

Large smoke plumes in Butler County were seen on radar, and that smoke drifted into the Wichita area, said Chris Jakub, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

The number of controlled burns Thursday may have been a result of an upcoming April 1 deadline that restricts burning in 16 counties in hopes of controlling air quality issues and ozone levels that spike in April because of annual burning in the Flint Hills.

Wichita officials had planned a controlled burn Thursday at Mid-Continent Airport, said Kay Johnson, the city's environmental services director.

"It is really, really bad," she said early Thursday evening as she drove in northwest Wichita. "It looks like every building is on fire around here."

Johnson said she may call off two controlled burns planned for today.

Reach Brent D. Wistrom at 316-268-6228 or

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