Firefighters battle blazes north of Hutchinson

Firefighters battled a series of blazes last week and into the weekend in Reno County.
Firefighters battled a series of blazes last week and into the weekend in Reno County. Courtesy of Facebook

A second grass fire was reported late Sunday morning northwest of Hutchinson, according to a news release from a Kansas State Incident Management Team, adding to recent fire troubles in the area.

The fire swiftly moved into the Highland Golf Club area, according to an e-mailed release from Capt. Steve Lutz of the Reno County Sheriff's Office. The golf course and residences in the area have been evacuated, affecting about 200 to 300 residents. As of 9 p.m. Sunday, the sheriff’s officials were beginning to let residents back into their homes. Two task forces will be monitoring the area overnight.

The public was asked Sunday to avoid the area of 82nd Avenue and Hendricks, northwest of Hutchinson, where the fire broke out, according to an e-mail from Kathleen Fabrizius of the incident team.

Fabrizius said numerous hot spots remain in the area where a Jupiter Hills fire originated on Saturday, although that fire remains about 80 percent contained. As of late Sunday morning, 20 fire units were battling blazes in the area, including personnel from the Kansas Forest Service.

It is estimated nearly 2,000 acres have been burned in the Highlands area in Reno and Rice counties.

There has been minor damage to fewer than 10 homes in the Highlands area.

No injuries were reported from the Jupiter Hills fire, which has burned at least 1,200 acres, according to an early Sunday Facebook post by Doug Hanen, interim chief of the Hutchinson Fire Department.

The Jupiter Hills fire was first reported just after 2 p.m. on Saturday. Once crews arrived, the fire was crossing 56th Avenue on the city’s north side. At least three outbuildings were damaged by the fire.

Reno County, Hanen said on Facebook, declared a state of emergency, which allowed for the possibility of additional state resources being deployed.

Fire crews from McPherson, Harvey, Sedgwick, Ellsworth and Barton counties assisted the Hutchinson and Reno County fire departments. Burning is not allowed in Reno County on Sunday, according to a tweet from Reno County Emergency Management.

Because of the wildfires, the Red Cross has opened a reception center in Hutchinson at the First Church of the Nazarene, 4290 N. Monroe. Sleeping accommodations and meals will be provided at the center. Those evacuating the fires are asked to bring essential items for each family member, including prescriptions and emergency medications, foods that meet unusual dietary requirements, identification to show residence in the affected area and important personal documents.

People are also asked to bring extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies and other comfort items such as diapers, formula and toys for children and infants and any special items for family members who are elderly or disabled.

Contributing: Beccy Tanner of The Eagle

Bryan Horwath: 316-269-6708, @bryan_horwath