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Fire creeps dangerously close to several homes

Published On: Mar 14 2014 12:07:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2014 06:11:38 PM CDT
BUTLER COUNTY, Kan. -

Homeowners in Butler County, near 159th and Highway 54, got quite the scare as a wildfire raged right in their backyard.

Captain Stu Bevis said they believe the fire and several others, started because of sparks thrown from some sort of vehicle Thursday evening. The county is still investigating the cause, but they believe it to be accidental.

The fire sent hot ash flying in the air as many homeowners turned on sprinklers and used garden hoses to wet down their lawns. Because the fire started around 5 p.m. many homeowners were just coming home from work and were too late to do so and several yards are now black with burnt grass.

One homeowner who’s house backs up to the wooded area where the fire spread through, said she saw smoke coming in the distance, but just thought it was a house fire and went inside to call 911. When she came out she knew that wasn’t the case.

“By the time I got back on the deck it was showering cinders of fire,” said Guyanne Weilert. “It actually burned me and all of a sudden the grass was just everywhere a blaze.

She says fires were popping up everywhere as fire crews worked long hours to put them out.

‘They said to grab our valuables and leave,” said Weilert. “I didn’t think about anything, but the cats. We got the carries and got them all gathered up and we were ready to vacate.”

Her daughter-in-law Donna said they couldn’t decide what to do. Work to put out fires at their home or gather their pets and leave.

“The wind was blowing through all the trees and you’re thinking, ‘there’s no way they’re going to be able to save our house,” she said. “Do you run? Do you leave? I mean, what do you do?”

The fire crept close to their back porch and some dry plants up next to their home. Donna smothered those with water, while her husband took the garden hose and sprayed down their lawn and put out a fire next door.

“I’ve seen stuff like this on TV, but you just never think you’re ever going to be in it,” Donna Weilert said.

Just a couple houses away, a security camera caught the fire moving close to a neighbor’s home.

“It looked like within a minute to two minutes it had gone from clear over there, to clear over here, so I don’t think it’s something I could have stopped,” said homeowner Leigh McGonigle.

His daughter and her friends were playing in the tree house in their backyard when they saw smoke.

“They said they were up there and saw smoke coming and about that time heard all the fire sirens and everything, so they got out just in time,” he said.

The tree house which they just built back on Memorial Day, is completely gone. Only a few charred boards and screws remain.

Over all, all homeowners say they are thankful for the quick action of fire crews in keeping the fire away from homes. They said stuff is replaceable, but the fact that no one was hurt is the most important thing.

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