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String of fires was just bad luck

News editor

From July 1 to July 7, fire departments in Marion County were called to 25 fires, an average of 3½ per day — with seven on July 4 alone. Despite the rash of fires, sources say, weather conditions didn’t warrant a countywide burn ban like the bans issued in 54 other Kansas counties.

The weather was hot and dry, but winds were fortunately low, said meteorologist Chris Jakub of the National Weather Service in Wichita. When conditions are hot, dry, and windy, the National Weather Service issues “red-flag warnings.”

“We just haven’t had those conditions,” Jakub said.

Most of the fires weren’t a matter of someone being careless either, Marion Fire Chief Mike Regnier said.

“Accidents happen,” he said. “Winds shift, things happen. The system’s not so bad with controlled burns.”

Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee was on vacation last week, but he said Hillsboro firefighters shared their explanation for the number of fires.

“What my guys are telling me is that I left for a week, and that’s why we had a bunch of fires,” Steketee said.

Conditions remain about the same in the coming week. As of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service’s forecast of fire danger for Marion County showed low risk for the entire week because of low winds.

“Dry conditions will continue,” and temperatures are expected to climb again by Sunday.

Last modified July 12, 2012

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