A burn ban has been enacted for Wichita and Sedgwick County through Friday night, authorities said.
“We’ll re-evaluate the situation on Friday and see if we can lift the burn ban at that point,” Wichita Fire Department Battalion Chief Stuart Bevis said Tuesday.
With persistent dry conditions, robust winds and low humidity, “any kind of outdoor burning needs to be stopped,” Bevis said.
Smokers need to be careful in how they dispose of their cigarettes, he said, and even chimineas should not be used during this period.
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“We really need people to control their ignition sources and think about what they’re doing,” Bevis said.
Firefighters responded to 39 different grass or brush fires around Sedgwick County this weekend, Division Chief Robert Timmons said.
“The conditions out there are very dangerous right now,” he said.
There were 14 grass fires in the county on Saturday and another 16 on Sunday, he said. That didn’t include nine brush piles that caught fire as well.
“There’s just a lot more at risk when the conditions are like this,” Timmons said. “Pretty much the whole weekend, we were going from one alarm to the next. It was pretty chaotic.”
The fires could be started by a discarded cigarette or a hot fragment from a deteriorating catalytic converter expelled by a passing vehicle. Embers from a charcoal grill or a chiminea could easily ignite a grass fire in these conditions, he said.
“It can be any number of things,” Timmons said. “Most of them are very difficult to determine.”
There’s a slight chance of precipitation this coming weekend in the Wichita metropolitan area, forecasters say.
“We can use the rain,” National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Metzger said Tuesday.