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300 acres of wheat lost in blaze near Clearwater

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 24, 2013, at 6:22 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 3:40 p.m.

Approximately 300 acres of standing wheat were lost as a result of a wind-whipped blaze Monday in a field near 79th Street South and 39th Street West.

The fire, which started around 3 p.m. Monday was mostly extinguished shortly before 6 p.m., Deputy Fire Marshal Greg Harlan said. Crews continued to monitor small fires in hedgerows overnight Monday, declaring the situation under control by mid-Monday morning.

Sedgwick County, Clearwater, Wichita, Conway Springs and Derby crews all were on the scene of the fire. Fire crews from McConnell Air Force Base helped staff county stations while crews were out fighting the fire, Harlan said.

None of the surrounding structures were damaged, said Harlan, who noted that a few houses were evacuated.

Several acres of the wheat stubble were charred.

He said multiple people own the land on which the wheat burned. The department is working with insurance companies and the United States Department of Agriculture to estimate the damage.

Efforts to contain the fire were stymied by strong winds Monday afternoon, as anytime firefighters neared control, the wind flared it back up, Harlan said.

“The winds are treacherous out there,” Harlan said. “It just provides so much oxygen into the fire. It starts building up again and the next thing you know it’s behind you and you’re chasing it.”

The fire got close to oil rigs and tanks in the area so crews were stationed near the tanks as a precaution.

“With this wind anything can happen,” Harlan said. “We’re looking at all the options.”

The National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory that was in effect through 8 p.m.

Sheriff’s officers blocked access to roads in the immediate vicinity of the fire.

Reach Matt Riedl at 316-269-6791 or mriedl@wichitaeagle.com.

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