Firefighters battle wildfires in Wabaunsee Co., dozens of other spots in Kansas

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) — As dozens of wildfires continue to burn throughout the state, emergency crews are reminding people to remain vigilant about preventing fires.

The Adjutant General''s Office says around 50 fires have been reported to the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka this week. In all, the blazes have burned more than 25,000 acres.

Two Black Hawk helicopters were flown into Wabaunsee Co. Wednesday afternoon to assist firefighters contain a wildfire near the Vera Road interchange on I-70. Wabaunsee Co. firefighters, along with Shawnee Co. and Auburn firefighters, are also battling a grass fire near Echo Ridge and Harveyville Road.

The fires are primarily across central Kansas, ranging from the Nebraska to the Oklahoma borders.

It is unknown how many structures have been destroyed, but officials have a report of at least one home that caught fire in Elk County. Strong winds also blew over a communications tower in Logan County.

The Kansas National Guard has deployed six helicopters with water buckets in all and activated 29 soldiers to man them and the two fuel trucks.

The Adjutant General's Office says weather conditions are improving; the humidity is rising and winds are slowing down. Despite that, they emphasize the grass is very dry and they urge people to avoid activities that could spark a fire.

"Do not drive on or stop your car on dry or tall grass because your exhaust can spark a fire," the Adjutant General's Office said. "Do not throw your cigarettes on the ground."

Authorities also ask people to stay away from affected areas and not to drive through heavy smoke.

"Sightseeing puts you in danger and hampers the work of firefighting crews," they said.

Gov. Jeff Colyer has already declared a state of disaster emergency in ten Kansas counties: Barber, Clark, Ellis, Greenwood, Harper, Kingman, Logan, Reno, Smith, and Stevens.