Wednesday fires caused by lightning

Gale Rose
Gannett reporter
A line of fire catches power poles on fire as it burns a field of uncut wheat north of Pratt on U.S. Highway 281 between NW 20th Street and NW 30th Street on Wednesday, June 24. Several lightning strikes from a storm over Kiowa and Edwards counties hit around 7:32 p.m. and ignited this fire. Other fires in neighboring counties were also caused by lightning from the storm.

Lightning strikes started fires across Pratt County Wednesday evening from a severe storm that moved through Edwards, Pratt and Kiowa counties.

A wheat-field fire on the west edge of north U.S. Highway 281 between NW 20th Street and NW 30 Street in Pratt County burned about 10 acres of uncut wheat and briefly set fire to poles on a high wattage power line. Fire crews were hampered by wet fields from recent rains. Firefighters from Iuka and Township 12 and County fire joined forces to fight that blaze that broke out about 7:35 p.m.

Firefighters prevented the fire from reaching residences on both sides of the fire.

Lightning strikes also started grass fires east of Sawyer and south of the Pratt County Veteran's Memorial Lake on SE 20th Street between SE 40th Avenue and SE 50th Avenue. Both fires were quickly extinguished.

Smoke from a couple of fires in other counties north and south of Pratt County was also visible.

There was almost no rain in Pratt County from the storm that hit Kiowa and Edwards counties. The storm produced hail in both counties and there was at least one report of a possible funnel cloud associated with the storm.

Bill Turner, meteorologist and lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Dodge City, said there was significant hail damage in Edwards County and Kiowa County. There was lots of hail west of Greensburg. The Lewis and Kinsley areas had lots of hail damage and the southwest part of Edwards County was hard hit.

"Edwards County took it on the chin," Turner said.

As for the funnel cloud, Turner said there wasn't warm air up coming up into the mesocyclone that is necessary to produce a tornado. There was some impressive cloud lowering associated with the storm but this was just low hanging clouds called "scud" and not funnel clouds, Turner said.

"There was nothing even close to tornadic," Turner said.

The super-cell storm produced positive flash lightning that may hit 10, 20 or 30 miles away from the storm. Lighting strikes from the June 24 storm hit several times in Pratt County starting at 7 p.m., including a dozen strikes recorded around 7:32 p.m. in Pratt County, Turner said.