The former chief of the Kickapoo Tribal Volunteer Fire Department in Kansas was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of setting fires the tribe was paid to fight, Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said. Also indicted was a former volunteer firefighter.
Stephen D. Ramirez, 26, of Horton, Kansas, former chief, and Arlene M. Negonsott, 34, also of Horton, Kansas, are charged with four counts of wire fraud. The indictment alleges Ramirez recruited Negonsott, a volunteer firefighter, to set fires on the Kickapoo Reservation from July to November 2015 that the Kickapoo fire department was called to fight.
The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas contracted with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide fire suppression services on the reservation. The contract called for the bureau to pay the tribe $600 for each fire it fought. The indictment alleges the defendants set six fires on the reservation.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The U.S. Department of Interior – Office of Inspector General, the Kickapoo Tribal Police and the FBI investigated.
In February we posted some statistics showing that historically there is a large spike in wildfire activity in March and April in Kansas. The spring is also a time when many, many ranchers conduct prescribed fires in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma. This year between February 27 and May 5, 2.7 million acres were treated with prescribed fire.
Referring to the bar graph below, and throwing out the two busiest and the two slowest data points, in a typical year land managers in the Flint Hills burn between 1.1 million and 2.8 million acres.
We thank Eric Ward of the Kansas Forest Service for providing these graphics compiled by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment..
Tagged articles on Wildfire Today about fire in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma.
Last week personnel from the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted seven prescribed fires totaling 1,770 acres at Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas. These photos are provided by the NPS.
Above: A Kansas firefighter makes a mobile attack on a grass fire from the truck. Screen grab from the KAKE video below.
Brad Ewy, Chief of the Cheney Fire Department in Kansas says their firefighters have to ride on their trucks while doing a mobile attack on a grass fire.
You take a fire when the wind’s blowing 30 miles an hour that fire’s going to be going 30 miles per hour and there’s no way we could keep up with it. We have to be on our trucks.
They (NFPA) don’t deal with grass fires like we had. The one we had in Medicine Lodge, the fire’s running 50 miles per hour. There’s absolutely no way.
There may or may not be a way to operate a nozzle safely while riding on a fire engine, but I would like to see the actual data or a BehavePlus calculation that predicts a 30 mph hour wind will cause a fire to spread at 30 mph, or a 50 mph wind will produce a 50 mph rate of spread.
Notice in the video that the crew does not take the time to cut the fence. They simply drive through it, even with the firefighter standing on the front of the truck.
Here is the description from NASA of the images below of the Anderson Creek Fire that burned almost 400,000 acres in Oklahoma and Kansas last month:
“In late March 2016, wildfire raged across rural areas of Kansas and Oklahoma. Local authorities and media outlets are calling it the largest grass fire in Kansas history. The Anderson Creek fire started in northern Oklahoma on March 22 and proceeded to burn more than 620 square miles (1600 square kilometers) of prairie and cattle grazing land. No human deaths have been reported, though 600 cattle were killed by the fires. At least 16 homes and 25 structures were lost, as were countless miles of fencing.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired these two natural-color images of the fire. The first shows the extensive smoke plumes as winds whipped the fires on March 23, 2016. The second image shows the scarred land as it appeared on March 27. Turn on the image comparison tool to see the change.
The wildfire spread quickly due to dry conditions in the region; rainfall has been below normal this spring. By March 31, the fire was close to 90 percent contained, thanks to work by fire crews, the National Guard, and a few inches of snow. Click here to view drone footage of the fire at its peak.”
The fire has burned 397,420 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma. It is the largest fire in the recorded history in Kansas.
The teams managing the huge Anderson Creek wildfire that burned from Oklahoma into Kansas were calling it 90 percent contained Sunday night. The organization running the fire is described by the Kansas Forest Service as a Unified Command comprised of the Kansas Forest Service Type 3 Incident Management Team, Kansas Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Team, and Barber County.
The Blackhawk helicopters from the Kansas National Guard that were assisting by dropping water were released Sunday afternoon. The Temporary Flight Restriction was then terminated.
The Kansas Forest Service and the Kansas Incident Management Teams will both be transitioning their management responsibilities back to Barber County this week. Monday, crews will be in patrol status with four mutual aid fire departments and the Barber County resources. Warmer and dryer conditions will return to the fire area Monday and Tuesday.
The 38 Hutchinson Community College Fire Science students who were enrolled in Mitigation Project Training last week over spring break got more than they bargained for in hands-on training. They began the project with mechanical mitigation work at Sand Hills State Park, Dillon Nature Center, and the Prairie Dunes Country Club, but on March 23 the group was diverted to Medicine Lodge, Kansas along with their mentors and trainers to help fight the fire.
All photos were provided by the Kansas Forest Service.
Continue reading “Anderson Creek Fire 90 percent contained”