Investigation underway as large grass fire smolders

A Dexter fire tanker travels the south part of the burnt area Thursday afternoon near U.S. 166 Highway and Grouse Creek Road. Fire crews worked on the fire from 1 p.m. Wednesday until winds calmed on Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters from Arkansas City and Dexter returned to the fire scene Thursday near Grouse Creek Road and U.S. 166 Highway to monitor and extinguish some flare-ups.

Ark City fire chief Bobby Wolfe gave an estimate of 2,500 to 3,000 acres of land that burned on Wednesday. He said they continued to monitor the area on Thursday while winds continued to gust. Wolfe said they planned on starting the investigation on Thursday. They think the fire started near the highway, but how it started could be difficult to prove, Wolfe said.

The fire started just after 1 p.m. Wednesday, prompting 12 fire agencies, including the Sedgwick County Wildland Task Force No. 1, to respond. Fire command began releasing personnel from the fire around 7 p.m., but a few departments stayed on scene all night, Wolfe said. Ark City and Dexter trucks and tankers returned to the charred area on Thursday morning to ensure the fire did not flare out of control again.

Dexter fire units updated fire command on the radio that they had a solid hold on the southern perimeter, allowing them to return to their station by the afternoon.

Wolfe said they are a long way from an estimate on how much monetary value was lost in the fire, such as damage to buildings and hay bales.

Hopefully, firefighters will have a break starting today as the forecast calls for rain, then wintery weather on Saturday. A Winter Storm Watch was issued on Thursday by the National Weather Service for Friday night and Saturday.

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