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So far this year, there have been close to 200 house fires in Wichita, as well as four house fire-related deaths. The Wichita Fire Department is reminding residents to prepare and practice an escape plan as part of Fire Prevention Week.

The theme this year is titled "Every Second Counts, Plan Two Ways Out." Wichita Fire Marshall Stuart Bevis says a fire can double in size every 30 seconds. He recommends having an escape plan, as well as practicing it.

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Butler Community College and Cowley College are working together to get more students trained to be fire responders.

The colleges signed an agreement that allows Cowley College students the ability to receive an associate degree in fire science from Butler after completing their basic certifications at Cowley.

Butler’s fire science program teaches a wide range of skills from fire suppression to emergency rescue to how to handle hazardous materials. Students operate the equipment, acquire basic EMT skills and study the chemistry involved in the way a fire behaves.

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According to a Office of State Fire Marshal report, Kansas is well on its way to reducing structure fires, including residential fires. There was almost an 11 percent decrease in structure fires last year alone.

There were 488 fewer structure fires in 2015 than 2014. Residential fires in the state have accounted for about 75 percent of structure fires during the past 15 years. Last year, nearly a third of structure fires were residential fires.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW/File photo

The National Weather Service in Wichita has forecast a very high to extreme grassland fire danger today. An Extreme Fire Warning is in effect for much of south-central Kansas until 7 this evening. 

Conditions have reached a critical level in regard to the possible spread of fire, and those conditions continue to deteriorate. The area is very dry, high winds are forecast, and there has been a drastic drop in the relative humidity.

Officials say a fire destroyed a theatre housed in a historic church in Abilene.

No injuries were reported after the fire Wednesday night at the Great Plains Theatre.

Dickinson County Emergency Management Director Chancy Smith said the theatre was a total loss. He says no one was inside the building at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The building housing the theater was built in 1881 and served as the First Presbyterian Church for years and was later converted to a live theatre.

Carla Eckels

The Wichita Fire Department unveiled nine new fire engines and a new ladder truck -- replacing part of an aging fleet. The department also has hired 17 new firefighters. KMUW's Carla Eckels has more...

Fire Marshal Brad Crisp says the new equipment will help improve service and enhance safety. He says the new engines look slightly different.

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The Wichita Fire Department reminds residents to be aware of potential fire hazards with Christmas trees and decorative lighting during this holiday season. Last week, a candle fire in south Wichita damaged a home and claimed the life of a family pet.

Bob Thompson is the Wichita Fire Department's Chief Prevention Officer, he says the candle was burning too close to a Christmas tree.

"As a result, the tree was ignited by the candle, the family was displaced and they lost a pet," he says.

 Date for the governor's State of the State address is set; Koch Industries announces large expansion; Fire safety reminders during the holiday season.

Brownback To Deliver State Of The State Jan. 15

Governor Sam Brownback has chosen January 15 as the date to deliver his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature. Brownback will outline his legislative agenda for 2013 one day after lawmakers begin the annual session.

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The Sedgwick County Fire Department has lifted the temporary ban on open burning effective Monday.

Should ozone levels become elevated again, a ban may be reinstated by recommendation of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the city of Wichita’s Environmental Services office.


On Friday the Wichita Fire Department announced an immediate burn ban on all current burn permits issued in the city limits of Wichita.