Finger on the Weather

Fire threat soars again for Wichita area

Black plumes cover fields outside of Ellis

Video shot by a Kansas trooper show smoke clouds and flames engulfing a field five miles north of Ellis, Kansas. A state trooper warned those in the area to be prepared to evacuate.
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Video shot by a Kansas trooper show smoke clouds and flames engulfing a field five miles north of Ellis, Kansas. A state trooper warned those in the area to be prepared to evacuate.

Much of southern and central Kansas will once again be a tinder box over the next few days, with the fire risk soaring with the winds and the temperatures.

A fire weather watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for Wednesday afternoon and evening for more than 20 counties, including the Wichita metropolitan area.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the 80s in the Wichita area and near 90 elsewhere, with south winds blowing steadily in the 20s and gusting to about 40 miles an hour.

"Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly and become very difficult to control," a weather service statement said.

Grass fires broke out in Ellis County north of I-70 in northcentral Kansas on Tuesday, and residents of the sparsely populated area were warned to be prepared to evacuate.

Similar dry and windy conditions are expected to persist on Thursday, with a fire weather watch again in effect from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. for 12 counties in southern Kansas - including the Wichita area.

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