Smoke in Wichita is from controlled burn, not Barber County blaze (+video)

The smoke that filled the sky in Wichita on Monday afternoon was from a controlled burn, according to fire officials, not from the large wildfire in Barber County at the end of March.

The air health in Wichita was listed as “unhealthy for sensitive groups” by the Kansas State Department of Health, meaning the smoke could increase the likelihood of symptoms in children and adults with respiratory disease, such as asthma. The warning was first posted at around 1 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m., neither Wesley Medical Center nor Via Christi hospitals in Wichita had admitted anyone for smoke-related problems.

There were several controlled rangeland fires in the Flint Hills, the likely source of the smoke, although a controlled burn in Pratt County got out of control Monday afternoon.

Even though the Barber County fire is 100 percent contained now, there are still hot spots “back under cedars in the canyons,” according to Roger Robison, one of the fire chiefs in Barber County.

He said firefighters there are still working to put them out, about two weeks after the fire first started.

Officials also increased the number of homes destroyed in Barber County from 11 to 12, although they did not have an update on the total damage the fire has caused, which more than a week ago was estimated at more than $1 million.

A dispatcher with Pratt County law enforcement said the fire was out as of 5:30 p.m. Monday and that firefighters were leaving the scene. The fire was a controlled burn that got out of hand, according to Myonne Borst, the dispatcher, though she did not have information on the size of the fire.

A phone message left with the Pratt County Fire Department was not returned.

Oliver Morrison: 316-268-6499, @ORMorrison

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