Firefighters take cover while battling grass fire

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - While firefighters were battling a grass fire near Silver Lake, a new danger forced them to take shelter.

Fire crews were battling the large grass fire near 54th and Velienca Road, and the sirens started to sound. Fire crews, and our team had to take cover.

13 News’ Shawn Wheat was on scene as it happened, “they are evacuating firefighters from this area at this very moment. Several firefighters from Topeka Fire Department, also from the Silver Lake Fire Department are here, but again,
confirmation from emergency managers here on scene, and firefighters on scene, that there is a cloud wrapped tornado. A rain wrapped tornado just off in our distance.”

According to Shawnee County Emergency Management Director Dusty Nichols, the people firefighters were trying to help from the fire, turned around and did the same thing for the crews, “So when we sounded the sirens, the home owners up in that actually opened their homes and sheltered those firefighters, which is, I’m sure those firefighters are very grateful for that, because it was pretty scary out there for a while.”

The storms rolled through pushing dust into the air, and producing small “gustnado” like the one caught on video by 13’s Morning Show Producer AJ Dome near the McFarland exit along I-70.

Nichols said as the storm continued to move through, there were more reports of possible tornados, “We sounded Silver Lake and concentrated south of 75. Specifically Auburn and South Topeka.”

The storms started to lose strength, giving Emergency Management a chance to assess damage.

“We have some polls down in Silver Lake, Rossville area. I did get reports of blown over trash cans. Those kind of things in the Auburn area.” Nichols was thankful to report, “I have no reports of injuries. No reports of deaths.”

Emergency managers say they will do a more extensive assessment Tuesday.