Officials on Reno County wildfire: ‘This is a long way from being over’

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – A fire in the Highlands area in Hutchinson continues to burn according to Reno County officials. The fire escaped the fire line Monday evening at 6 p.m. Currently, there are over 230 responders helping with the fire from 116 agencies.

In an afternoon press briefing, officials confirmed that seven properties were destroyed and 6,300 acres have been burned in Reno and Rice counties. There have been no confirmed injuries or fatalities to human or domesticated animals. There have also been no responder injuries reported.

The fire forced 10,000 to 12,000 people to voluntarily evacuate their homes according to the Kansas Department of Emergency Management. The evacuation area covers Hendricks Street to Highway 61 from 30th Avenue to 108th Avenue. However, those with physical addresses on 30th Street were allowed to return.

“We have not been able to, at this point, determine damage estimates,” said Sheriff Randy Henderson. “However, a flyover is planned with a Hutchinson firefighter and Kansas Highway Patrol trooper to get an accurate picture of the damage.”

At this point, residents are not allowed to go back into the affected areas. Once first responders can evaluate the area, a determination will be made if it is safe for the public to re-enter.

“We know many residences were evacuated and anxious for information about their properties and homes,” said Henderson. “We hope to begin damage assessment later today so we can give out accurate information.”

The National Guard will be in Hutchinson to continue water drops as long as there is flight time and daylight. Drones are prohibited during the air drops.

A shelter location set up at the Encampment Building at the Kansas State Fairgrounds remains open. Officials say that includes a pet shelter and space for horses. Officials said about 70 people are there. Residents in Reno County can call the United Way or 211 for information. The United Way is also taking financial donations for fire victims. Also evacuees are encouraged to register as “Safe and Well” on the American Red Cross website: www.safeandwell.communityos.org so that loved ones know you are safe.

Officials ask those wishing to donate items for responders and evacuees bring the items to the Garden Center at Walmart, 1905 E 17th Street in Hutchinson. For the future needs of evacuees, they are requesting cleaning supplies, latex and rubber gloves, trash bags, dust masks, safety glasses, rakes and shovels.

Follow Reno County Emergency Management on Facebook for the latest.

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