Story by Andy Lyons
Muleskinner Managing Editor
Photos by Andrew Mather and Taz Hall
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated as more information has come available.
Firefighters from the Johnson County Fire Protection District responded to a large field fire at 7:36 p.m. Sunday in the 500 block of state Route DD in Knob Noster after an electrical pole snapped, sparking a grass fire that grew quickly due to windy conditions.
As firefighters worked to combat the blaze, deer could be seen silhouetted by the flames as they fled the area.
Fire Chief Larry Jennings confirmed that 45-50 acres of pasture, made up of fields and timber, were burned by the incident.
Johnson County was under a wind advisory from 7 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday, and a spokesman from the National Weather Service confirmed wind was gusting up to 49 mph in Knob Noster Sunday night, which JCFPD Lt. Brent Hunt said was a contributing factor to the fire.
Although the fire was only a short distance from the Hickory Hills subdivision, no structures were affected by the flames, “it was all open ground and timber,” Hunt said.
Crews from West Central Electric were also on the scene, working to take down the damaged electrical pole. Steve Moore, director of member services for West Central Electric, said customers in the area would have experienced an outage from the time the line went down until crews were finished replacing the pole. Moore also said high winds snapped the pole high up where an attachment is placed to mount wires.
Gloria Michalski, director of Johnson County Emergency Management, said her agency wasn’t very involved but had to provide information to area residents.
“We were getting a lot of inquiries because the fire was close to neighborhoods, so we worked with dispatch to keep the public informed via Facebook,” Michalski said.
She added that Johnson County Emergency Management was monitoring the situation closely because in the event of evacuations from area homes or businesses, they would have been responsible for setting up shelters and assisting in any action taken.