Crews working Kiowa County fire

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Kiowa County, KS(westernkansasnews.com) Three Kansas Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters have deployed to assist with two active fires north of the Northern Natural Gas Plant in Kiowa County. One trooper from the Kansas Highway Patrol has also been deployed to assist with traffic. There are an additional five helicopters on standby to assist with the response effort if needed.

As of 8 p.m. crews are managing hot spots. Two structures have reportedly been destroyed by the fires.

Currently, in Kansas there are four uncontained fires burning and 12 active but controlled fires. There are six fires in the Kansas City metro area that are either contained or extinguished. Since 8 a.m. today we have tracked 45 fires that have burned approximately 13,000 acres.

Gov. Jeff Colyer M.D. issued a disaster declaration for fires in Rice County on March 14. Kiowa, Labette, McPherson, Montgomery and Rice Counties have issued state of local disaster declarations. All counties are included in the state declaration and more may be added as needed.

Fire danger remains high with red flag warnings for Friday, March 16 issued across much of Kansas due to high winds and dry weather conditions.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management officials are reminding Kansans to avoid any activity that could create a spark and start a new fire. Do not drive on or stop your car on dry or tall grass because your exhaust can spark a fire; do not throw cigarettes on the ground.

Stay away from all affected areas and do not drive through heavy smoke. Sightseeing puts you in danger and hampers the work of firefighting crews.