One of the greatest hazards of harvest is fire breaking out in ripe wheat fields or in the stubble of just-harvested fields.
On Monday, that hazard hit close to home for southwest Sedgwick County when fire broke out in a stubble field near 87th Street South and 39th Street West and spread rapidly.
It couldn't have happened on a worse day. A wind advisory had been in effect all day with sustained winds of 30 mph and gusts to 40 mph. The advisory was in effect until 8 p.m. The fire started about 3:30 p.m. and was still burning out of control at 6 p.m.
A sheriff's officer directing traffic away from the fire scene said that he had not heard what started the fire. Firefighters from Haysville, Clearwater, Derby and Wichita responded to the fire.
Farmers in the area of the fire hooked up discs and jumped on tractors to disc farmland and try to prevent the fire from spreading. A bystander who didn't give his name said he was standing by at a farm just south of 87th street where the blaze started until the farmers fighting the fire got home.
"I was just getting off work and I saw the smoke and I know a lot of people down here to see if I could help," he said. "They were hooking up discs when I got here."
The fire had burned all the way to 79th Street South and 34th West by 7 p.m., an area of about 1.5 square miles. Fire crews said that the area burned included wheat stubble and pasture and some ripe wheat fields.
By 7:30 p.m., fire officials were calling the blaze "most contained" with no losses of homes or buildings.