TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Dozens of wind-blown wildfires in Kansas have closed highways and prompted evacuations.
State officials say nearly 50 wildfires have erupted in the state since the weekend, mostly in central Kansas stretching from the Nebraska to the Oklahoma borders.
So far, the fires have burned about 40 square miles.
Most of the fires have been contained or extinguished, though strong winds complicated the firefight Tuesday with gusts in western Kansas topping 70 mph.
Officials say at least one home caught fire in southeast Kansas’ Elk County. Strong winds also blew over a communications tower in Logan County on the western side of the state.
The Kansas National Guard has deployed six helicopters with water buckets, two fuel trucks and about two dozen troops to help.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Fire crews battled a barn fire early Wednesday morning. Several firefighters responded to the fire around 9 a.m.
When crews arrived, the barn had already collapsed. Most of the firefighting efforts focused on preventing the fire from spreading.
Crews will be out on the scene monitoring hot spots. Greenwich between 37th and 45th was closed during the fire.
There is a grass fire in east Wichita that is spreading.
Greenwich, north of 37th St., is currently closed.
— WichitaFireDept (@WichitaFireDept) March 7, 2018
RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Reno County Sheriff’s Department said the remains of a missing girl have been found.
On Saturday, deputies and an investigator from the Reno County Coroner’s Office responded to rural farm property north of Haven. The owner found remains while working his land. The remains were transported to the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center for identification.
On Monday, a pathologist identified the remains as 17-year-old Laura Lee Dorey of Haven. Dorey had been reported missing by her family back on June 13, 2017. Her cause of death is still under investigation.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man with an extensive criminal history shot and killed a police officer and wounded two others who were checking on a disturbance at a Missouri home, authorities said Wednesday.
Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Collin Stosberg said the officers went to the home in Clinton on Tuesday night in response to a 911 call in which no one was on the line but a disturbance could be heard in the background.
The patrol said shots were fired at the Clinton officers soon after they arrived at the home around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. Clinton, with about 8,800 residents, is about 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Kansas City.
Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, a 30-year-old who had served in the Army, was fatally shot while trying to apprehend the suspect. The other two officers were treated at a hospital. One of the wounded officers remained hospitalized Wednesday with moderate injuries. The other officer’s injuries were minor, the patrol said.
A SWAT team entered the home at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday and found the suspect, 37-year-old James Waters, of Clinton, dead. Stosberg said the cause of the suspect’s death is under investigation. A woman who was at the home was taken into custody.
Court records show Waters had a history of convictions for drugs and resisting arrest. He served stints in prison from October 2000 through November 2002, May 2003 through April 2008, July 2008 through October 2012 and May 2014 through last July, according to Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Garry Brix.
Waters was charged in November in Missouri’s Cass County with unlawful possession of a firearm and drug possession, court records show. He pleaded not guilty, and the case was pending when he died.
Stosberg declined to say whether police had responded to the home in the past or what precipitated the 911 call.
Morton is the second Clinton police officer in the past year to be killed in the line of duty. In August, Officer Gary Michael was killed during a traffic stop. Ian McCarthy was arrested after a two day manhunt and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting. Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty.
Morton, who joined the Army in November 2005 and was twice deployed, returned in May 2014 from Afghanistan, where he served as a bridge crew member and radio communications manager, The Kansas City Star reported.
The patrol said Morton was a full-time Clinton officer from February 2015 through January 2017, when he temporarily became a reserve officer. He returned to full-time duty one month after Michael’s death. The patrol described Morton in a tweet as having served with “distinction.”
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – KSN News kicked off its 2018 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway.
You can reserve your ticket for the Dream Home, valued at $500,000. More than 2,200 tickets are reserved as of 7:45 a.m.
The home is located at the Reserves at Sandcrest in northwest Wichita.
Nies Homes is building the home, along with various subcontractors.
The home is 4,068 square feet. It will feature a modern farmhouse design, with lots of wooden accents and details. The home has 5 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. On the first floor and basement level, the home has huge windows and doors to let natural light all throughout the home. The basement level also features a wet bar, wine room, home gym and an outside fire pit.
To reserve a ticket call 1-800-834-5760 or visit dreamhome.org.
By reserving one of the raffle tickets you will not only be entered to win the home but you will also be entered to win many other prizes. The best prize will be knowing that you have helped St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital further their mission of helping save the lives of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
NEW YORK (AP) – Target is increasing the minimum hourly pay to $12 starting this spring, the second increase in a matter of months, while accelerating its reinvention plan to make the discounter more competitive in the age of Amazon.
The discounter’s moves, announced at its annual investor meeting in Minneapolis, where the company is based, come as its ambitious plan to make itself over is driving more people to its stores and its website. But the cost of such a massive overhaul, along with its pay increases, squeezed its fourth-quarter profits, and it took some shine off overall strong quarterly sales. The company also offered a muted profit outlook.
In fact, shares were trading lower Tuesday on the news of muted profits before the announcement of the pay hike. And investors punished the stock further, sending shares down nearly 5 percent.
Last fall, Target increased its hourly wage to $11 from $10. Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, told analysts Tuesday the company saw a better applicant pool and a 60 percent spike in the number of applicants in the days after the announcement. Cornell reiterated Tuesday its promise to increase the minimum pay to $15 by the end of 2020.
Target also announced other initiatives to help it speed up deliveries and make shopping in its stores easier. The company is rolling out free, two-day shipping for hundreds of thousands of items on Target.com. Except for holders of its branded credit card, shoppers previously needed to spend at least $35 to get free shipping. And its same-day delivery service, which was tested New York City, is being rolled out to key cities in the U.S. such as Boston and Chicago. Target, which was testing curbside pickup at 50 stores, said it also plans to expand to 1,000 locations nationwide.
“2017 was a year of significant progress,” Cornell said. “2018 is all about acceleration.”
As it races to modernize, Target’s profit margins are under significant pressure. The bottom lines of traditional retailers are getting bruised trying to hold Amazon.com at bay. Late last month, Walmart reported weak fourth-quarter profits as it stumbled with e-commerce sales during the crucial holiday season.
Where investors punished Walmart by selling off shares, the reaction on Tuesday to Target was more subdued, suggesting that the traditionally irascible Wall Street may be giving the retailer what it needs most: more time to win over consumers.
Some industry analysts seemed exasperated with the fickleness of Wall Street in what they believe is a turnaround story.
“While we understand the concern over increasing costs, we are critical of voices that see this as a weakness,” wrote Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData. “We take the contrary view: if it is to grow, Target needs to invest — including in customer service, which affects wages. The alternative, which is to restrict or throttle investment, may deliver more profit in the short term, but it will be to the detriment of long-term performance.”
But traditional retailers face a moving target in Amazon.com.
Amazon has created fierce loyalty among shoppers who spend $99 for a membership that comes with free shipping, as well as streaming movies and music. Its acquisition of Whole Foods Market last year has raised the stakes for Target and Walmart, which also sell groceries. Amazon just introduced two-hour Whole Foods delivery for Prime members.
Target pledged last year to invest more than $7 billion in modernization efforts over the next three years. That includes remodeling old stores, opening small locations in cities and college towns and faster online delivery. Late last year, the company said it was accelerating plans to remodel more than half of its 1,800 stores by 2020.
Target earned $1.1 billion, or $2.02 per share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $817 million, or $1.45 per share, a year earlier. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were $1.37 per share, which is 2 cents short of analyst projections, according to Zacks Investment Research.
Revenue rose 10 percent to $22.77 billion, edging out expectations for $22.46 billion.
Target reported a 3.6 percent increase in revenue at stores opened at least a year. That beat estimates of a 3.1 percent gain, according to FactSet. Same-store sales, a crucial barometer in the industry, rose more than 4 percent in January, suggesting that Target’s transformation is sustainable.
Customer traffic rose 3.2 percent and online sales jumped 29 percent in the fourth quarter. The company logged healthy sales growth in all five of its merchandising areas, including fashion and home furnishings.
Target expects its per-share earnings this quarter to range from $1.25 to $1.45. Analysts expect $1.40. Full-year earnings are projected in the range of $5.15 to $5.45 per share, versus Wall Street expectations for $5.21.
Shares of Target Corp. fell 4.7 percent, or $3.58 in early afternoon trading, to $71.56.
A much-needed break from the wind on tap today.
Expect a good hair day with winds from the northwest, gusting at times to 20 MPH. This will be more tolerable.
The wind break won’t last for long. We’re not talking hurricane force winds but more of a typical Kansas wind for week’s end. Southerly winds both Thursday and Friday send temperatures back up the ladder.
Join Katie, Darren, and me on Kansas Today from 4:30-7 a.m. We’ll bring up you to speed on the wicked winds and wildfires from yesterday. – Laura Bannon
HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – Some of the biggest fires Tuesday occurred in Ellis County. The two are nearly contained.
A fire near the town of Catharine is about 90 percent contained. It spread quickly because of high wind. The Kansas National Guard responded with two Blackhawk helicopters to drop water on the blaze.
Kansas Highway Patrol officials said they went to homes in the path of the fire encouraging people to evacuate. Some included in that group was Dolores and Lawrence Schmeidler. They packed up as quickly as they could.
“Clothes and medicine. Her medicine. I don’t take anything. I have shoes back there. I have a bag of clothes.”
The first fire at the approximate location of Interstate 70 Mile Marker 160 is 99 percent contained.
During the battle Tuesday, one firefighter was treated at Hays Medical Center for smoke inhalation. An estimated 100 firefighters from Ellis, Rooks, Russell and Trego counties helped fight the fires.
In total, the fires burned approximately 8,000-10,000 acres in Ellis County. All homes in the path of the fire were saved.
Firefighters will remain on scenes to monitor flare-ups from safe locations throughout the night hours.
“They have been out hers since 10:30 this morning, and they need energy to go on and that is what we do,” said Vernon Peterson.
Peterson, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, worked to assist firefighters in both fires.
Woman calls 911, helps residents evacuate fire near Lake Afton: “It was just minutes, it went up so fast”
SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Fires broke out across Kansas on Tuesday.
One of those fires was in Sedgwick County, where fire crews battled a blaze near Lake Afton.
Several barns and cars went up in flames, but, luckily no homes were severely damaged.
The fire was reported by a woman who was just driving by.
Mickie Hale says she was driving down 231st street when she saw smoke, that’s when she knew something wasn’t right.
“I just saw it I turned left to come up here to see where it was at and by the time I turned around it had already went through the whole field,” said Hale. “I called it in and gave an exact address and ran across the street because I knew I told her, it’s going across the road,” Hale added.
That’s when Hale jumped into action.
“I pounded on one house but they didn’t answer and by the time I turned around it had already engulfed the next door neighbor’s house,” said Hale.
She says she went to several houses trying to help whoever she could get out of harms way.
“There’s people over in that neighborhood that are using a wheelchair so I was worried about them so I was checking on them seeing if we needed to evacuate, it just all happened fast,” said Hale.
Hale says she knows first hand the damage a fire can do.
“My house burned down about five years ago in Valley Center so I know how quickly it can go up and how fast it spreads,” said Hale.
Which is why Hale reacted quickly, hoping it could help.
“Things can be replaced that’s what I learned lives can’t,” said Hale.
Fire crews did remain in the area for much of the day monitoring hot spots and making sure nothing flared back up.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Extreme Kansas winds have sparked fires, sent trampolines flying and turned garbage cans upside down.
“March is supposed to be kite-flying weather, though, and I don’t think I could hang on to a kite in this wind,” said Wichita resident Kim Lester.
KSN wanted to know what it’s like to work outside in the windy conditions.
“It’s pretty tough some days, but it’s part of the job so we just gotta do it,” said United States Postal Service worker Robert Reyes.
Reyes has worked as a letter carrier in Wichita for 19 years. He said he’s worked in the wind, the cold, the snow and the heat.
“We get all four seasons here,” Reyes laughed.
KSN followed Reyes on part of his walking route on Tuesday. Like any other day, Reyes parked his truck walked from home-to-home delivering people’s mail.
“Usually when it’s this windy I’m holding on pretty tight, so I haven’t really dropped it and had to chase it too far,” he said.
However, Reyes admitted he has dropped some mail before.
“Sometimes when you open the cluster boxes the wind will suck the mail out real quick and then you’re kind of chasing mail,” Reyes said.
The wind gusts between 40 and 60 mph on Tuesday. Reyes said however, the howling winds won’t stop him from doing his job and doing it on time.
“Every once in a while I’ve just got to scrunch my hat down a little tighter and keep going,” he said. “It’s part of the job, so we just gotta do it.”
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Fires blazed throughout Kansas Tuesday afternoon burning more then 10,000 acres of soil. KSN started the morning in Reno County, speaking with those who helped clean up their community exactly one year ago, when a small grass fire turned massive; ripping through most of North Hutchinson. However, as soon as we arrived to Hutch fire station, crews were running out of the door, to tend to a grass fire in Haven.
“I don’t think you’ll talk to a firefighter in the state of Kansas that hasn’t been on edge all week,” said Hutchinson’s Deputy Fire Chief, Doug Hanen.
Chief Hanen says this fire and one other, started around 10:30 Tuesday morning.
“Those strong winds knocked down a power line and caught fire on the grass,” he explained.
Reno County residents stood by and watched as fire crews worked to control the fire but one Haven resident that lives less that a mile from the action said, this time it was too close to home.
“I remember the fires last year,” said Delmer Fritz. “They were terrible but they were also on the other side of town so when I woke up to sirens this morning it made me really nervous. Our home is surrounded with dry grass.”
Fritz says he remembers the homes that went up in flames last year and says he hopes the fires don’t claim his home this year.
“It can happen really fast,” said Fritz. “It’d wipe us out and there’s no way to stop it. I was lucky the fire was going the other way and also that the river was there to stop it.”
Hutchinson’s fire chief says Kansas need to be extra cautious around this time of year.
“If they got welding and grinding to do outside, pick another day,” said Hanen. “If they absolutely have to, have somebody with you, have a plan, buckets of water, hoses, fire extinguishers, because these things can get out of hand very very quickly.”
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The mother of Andrew Finch, the man killed by Wichita police in December after an alleged swatting call, is demanding an independent investigation be completed.
Lisa Finch spoke outside of the city council meeting Tuesday morning. She thanked the public for their support and called for justice for her son.
“If this is an investigation, why are they not speaking to us, the witnesses, the people this affected the most?” asked Lisa Finch.
“I don’t have any reason to doubt our district attorney will do a fair and full investigation,” added Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell.
City council member Brandon Johnson says he supports an outside investigation. As for the lawsuit filed by the Finch family against the city of Wichita, the city has until Friday to respond. Mayor Longwell says he has not seen the lawsuit and will not comment on pending litigation.
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Transportation closed the interstate and several highways Tuesday in northwest Kansas due to blowing dust. The highways have since reopened.
They include the following:
- K-25 from the U.S. 40 junction
- U.S. 36 from Atwood to Oberlin
- I-70 from Goodland to Colby
- U.S. 24 from Levant to Colby
- U.S. 40 from Sharon Springs to Oakley
The following roads have reopened in NWKS:
I-70 from Goodland to Colby
U.S. 24 from Levant to Colby
U.S. 40 from Sharon Springs to Oakley pic.twitter.com/vU25i35puL
— NWKansasKDOT (@NWKansasKDOT) March 6, 2018
U.S. 36 from Atwood to Oberlin has reopened as of 4:30 p.m. CST. Blowing dust may still create visibility issues, so please use caution when traveling.
— NWKansasKDOT (@NWKansasKDOT) March 6, 2018
K-25 from the U.S. 40 junction to Colby has reopened. Blowing dust may still create visibility issues, so please use caution when traveling.
— NWKansasKDOT (@NWKansasKDOT) March 6, 2018
GREENSBURG, Kan. (KSNW) – High wind caused a semi to overturn in Kiowa County. It happened about five miles west of Greensburg on U.S. 54 around 10:45 a.m.
Rosa Spainhour, Director of EMS in Kiowa County, sent KSN News photos of the semi. There are no injuries. The semi is still currently in the road.
The National Weather Service says gusts of up to 55 mph are expected across the western and central part of the state Tuesday.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A conservative official’s claim that scores of noncitizens are voting in Kansas will be put on trial Tuesday in a legal challenge to a law requiring people to show proof of citizenship to register to vote in the state.
At issue in the bench trial unfolding in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, is the fate of a law championed by Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach requiring people to provide citizenship documents such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport when they register.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson must decide whether Kobach has legal authority to demand such paperwork for people who register at motor vehicle offices. If he’s to win, Kobach will need to show that Kansas has a significant problem of noncitizens registering to vote.
Kobach, the vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s recently disbanded commission on election fraud, argues the law is necessary to prevent voter fraud and says even a small number of noncitizens voting could sway a close election. Critics say incidents of noncitizens registering to vote are extremely rare and argue that such Republican-backed laws hurt voter registration efforts and disenfranchise minorities and college students who may not have the documentation readily available.
Kansas has about 1.8 million registered voters. Kobach has told the court he has been able to document a total of 127 noncitizens who at least tried to register to vote since 2000. Forty-three of them were successful in registering, he says, and 11 voted.
The law in question went into effect in 2013. In its first three years, about one in seven voter registration applications in Kansas were blocked for lack of proof of citizenship — with nearly half for people under the age of 30, according to court filings.
Robinson in May 2016 temporarily blocked the law’s implementation for people who register at driver licensing offices, a ruling that was upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Today’s forecast looks like a carbon copy of yesterday. Intense winds and high fire danger.
Red flag warnings have been posted for most of Kansas and Oklahoma.
We saw what happened near Ashland yesterday. If a grass fire sparks, it will spread quickly and get out of control. This is the case today with gusts up to 60 MPH. If you must smoke, please properly dispose your cigarette butts. This is a serious warning, people’s lives are at risk every time you light up and carelessly throw a cigarette out.
No meaningful rain or snow chances through the end of the week. Rain is posted for Saturday in central Kansas although those chances look pitiful. It doesn’t look like this dry pattern will change anytime soon.
I’ll be tracking the intense winds all morning long on KSN News. Make sure to join Katie, Darren, and Laura on Kansas Today from 4:30-7 a.m. and again, on KSN News at Noon. – Laura Bannon
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – At 17-years-old, most teens are worried about their homework, texting their friends, or maybe getting ready for prom. But, one Wichita teen has bigger things to do, she’s on a mission to help children in a Third World country
That’s why Chenyu Yi is our KSN News 3 Hometown Hero. Chenyu is a junior at Wichita’s Independent school, an international student from China.
Like many teens, after graduation she wants to go to college. But, her big goal is to build a school on the other side of the world in Nepal.
Some might call it a coincidence but Chenyu Yi calls it a fateful moment when she was cruising around the internet.
“There was one day, a picture came through on my laptop about children in Nepal,” said Yi
At that very moment, she got inspired to help children in Nepal by building them a new school and library.
“So, it came to me that if I have the ability, if I could help them, then I would do that.”
Chenyu said her parents had barely anytime to learn what she was doing.
“But, I didn’t tell them before the week I left. So, they had no idea about it.”
So with their blessing, but, no real plan, Chenyu jumped on a plane bound for Katmandu to meet up with her cousin.
“I have been thinking about helping others for a long time.”
They met a stranger who told them the children in his mother’s village needed a school. She saw her opportunity.
“I truly think with education with appropriate education they could get a better future for themselves.”
So, they jumped on motorcycles and made the four-hour trip to the remote village.
“I actually, like theday I got there I kind of wanted to cry.”
Chenyu says it was the first time the villagers had seen people from the outside world.
Their school was not great.
“So, it’s basically a room, there’s no chairs, there’s no blackboards.”
Chenyu got the villagers to buy into her plan, to transform this building into a real school.
“The first floor will be books and reading areas and maybe 2 or 3 computers with a teacher room.”
So far, she’s raised over $30,000 to pay for the school from her Go Fund Me page. Now, she’s working on getting building supplies, workers, and teachers. “Because, I don’t want to leave it alone, since it’s my project I want to keep it, see it start to end beautifully.”
No matter how long it takes, this Hometown Hero won’t stop until her dream comes true. According to Chenyu getting those building supplies to the village won’t be easy. She hopes to use cars and motorcycles to do it.
If you would like to donate to the project we have a link to Chenyu’s Go Fund Me page
If you know a Hometown Hero in your community we’d love to hear about them. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The family of Evan Brewer is demanding change after DCF admitted to mishandling the toddlers case before he died.
On Friday, KSN received documents from DCF about Evan’s case. The documents showed that DCF received multiple reports of abuse and neglect towards Evan, dating back more than a year before his body was found encased in concrete.
“It’s easy for a dad to say, if something happened to my kid I would just kick the door in and go get him,” explained Evan’s dad, Carlo Brewer. “That was the situation I was in and if I would have done that I would have ended up in jail or loosing my other children.”
Today, Evan’s father spoke with KSN about the fight to try to save his son’s life.
“We took every approach that you’re supposed to take,” he said. “We made calls, filed reports; we even camped out outside of the home.”
Now, Brewer says his mission is to help other families navigate through the system.
“The idea really began while sitting outside of that house waiting to see my son – we didn’t know what we could do next,” he said. “I feel like Evan’s Safe Haven is the ears that will listen to people. We can be the voice for the children.”
Brewer says this nonprofit is for all the children who get lost in the system.
“We have the right to protect our children and I feel this will help parents who were like me and didn’t know what to do,” said Brewer.
For more on Evan’s Safe Haven you can visit their Facebook page.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – If you are outside and find a tornado is near, you likely will hear emergency sirens sounding. But, if you are inside, you may not hear them. That’s why KSN has a weather app to keep you alert and aware.
And while KSN will be here for severe weather tips, there are some things to also avoid if you find yourself outside during a tornado event.
KSN Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman says, for years, Kansans have been told to get into a ditch if there is no shelter near. But, Teachman says, a ditch is not always an ideal option.
“If all else fails and you have to go into a ditch, go as far away from your car as possible,” explains Teachman. “Lay flat and protect your head, but then, watch for rising water.”
Teachman says cars have flipped before, killing people who were taking shelter in a ditch. And flash flooding can happen, fast.
Another outdoor concern is overpasses. A KSN News crew aired a video in April of 1991, that showed several people taking shelter on the Kansas Turnpike by getting up and underneath the girders of an overpass. The people in that situation made it through the tornado without injury, but Teachman says research has shown hiding under an overpass is not a good idea.
“Please do not seek shelter underneath an overpass, it will just serve as a wind tunnel,” explains Teachman.
And, she adds, the consequences can be deadly.
“We’ve observed in several previous tornadoes people leaving their homes seeking shelter underneath overpasses, only to be sucked out and later found dead.”
Teachman adds it is not advised to try to outrun a tornado, but says you can turn at right angles away from a tornado to try to get clear.
Emergency managers say it’s best to keep in mind Kansas weather events can happen quickly, and it’s best to be aware of your surroundings. That includes knowing where an emergency shelter is located when you are outside. And take shelter in as secure a location as you can find.
“Hopefully, they’ve got a basement,” says Interim Sedgwick County Emergency Manager, Cody Charvat. “If not, it needs to be a room on the lowest level of their home interior so there’s no windows we have to worry about collapsing.”
Teachman says the KSN Weather App is a great resource to stay alert, and says KSN will continue to be here for you when weather breaks.