Butler County firefighters trying to get grass fires under control

Butler County firefighters were trying to get grass fires under control Sunday evening that started at around 2:30 p.m., according to a Butler County dispatcher.

The dispatcher said the fires stretched along an area at least 20 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. But the dispatcher said the fires likely covered a larger area than that, because firefighters had not yet updated the scope of the fires as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

All of central, western and southeast Kansas was under a “red flag warning” by the National Weather Service on Sunday. The warning signified gusty winds, low humidity levels and dry fuels for fire weather zones.

The burning area in Butler County included some farms and ranch houses, but damage appeared to be limited to vegetation only, according to the dispatcher.

U.S. 400 was shut down starting in the Flint Hills and ending about 5 miles east into Greenwood County.

The dispatcher said firefighters started a backfire to stop any approaching fires by creating a burned area in their path.

She said the the fires were not yet declared under control.

Also, Wichita Fire Department officials extended a burn ban through Monday.

The ban prohibits use of all open fires, including fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. It does not include outdoor cooking appliances.

The fire department said to fully extinguish cigarettes in water before disposing of them in a metal can.

The National Weather Service forecasts winds will continue Monday, with a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain in the afternoon and evening.

Tuesday has a 40 percent chance of rain.

Discarded cigarettes caused Wichita grass and house fires last weekend that resulted in $600,000 in damages.

Gabriella Dunn: 316-268-6400, @gabriella_dunn