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ON THE ROAD

SAND, SUN

Herald, resident head west, south for summer trips. See Page 7.

Competition heats up as the day draws to a close. See Page 8.

Weekender July 7-8, 2012 Ottawa, Kansas

The

Herald

Ottawa

ELECTION 2012

75 cents Volume 143, No. 135 12 Pages

WEEKENDER Edition

Clerk: Only GOP, Dem voters cast primary ballots By CRYSTAL HERBER Herald Staff Writer

Registration status is key for the August primary. Voters must either be registered as a Republican or Democrat to be eligible to vote in the

‘I’ve never, ever felt heat like that before’

Aug. 7 primary election, Shari Perry, Franklin County clerk, said. Perry said she doesn’t want residents to get confused about when they are allowed to vote according to their party affiliation. “If you are not a Republican or

a Democrat, then you cannot vote in the primary,” Perry, who also is the county election officer, said Thursday. Kansas only recognizes two political parties — Democrat and Republican — however, residents

may choose to be members of the Libertarian, Reform or American Elect parties, or be unaffiliated with a party. Voters who are unaffiliated still may vote in the primary, but must first fill out a party decla-

ration card at the polling place. If such voters choose, they may change their party affiliation back to unaffiliated status after the primary, Perry said. See PRIMARY, Page 12

danger rages on

By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

After few hours in Tuesday afternoon’s triple-digit heat, Jeff Totten was hoping to cool off with some ice cream. But as he neared relief at a local shop, Totten found that instead of a frozen treat, he’d soon face flames towering 50 feet over his head. “I was heading to Dairy Queen when we got the call from dispatch,” Totten, assistant fire chief with the Lincoln-OttawaHarrison fire department, said of a Tuesday blaze that started near the intersection of Nebraska Road and K-68, east of Ottawa. Arriving first on the scene, Totten worked quickly to contain the initial source of fire — then in a ditch — before it spread further north. But the wind, he said, hurled embers across Osborne Terrace Road, igniting a cut wheat field. Soon enough, the dry conditions and 20-mph wind gusts accelerated the fire, which eventually destroyed 40 acres and burned for three hours, threatening a local business, a fireworks stand and two animal care facilities. “It was so hot I thought I was going to have blisters on the back of my arms,” Totten said of the fire, which began at about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday after a woman shot fireworks near the dry pasture. “I’ve been on quite a few grass fires and this was one of the biggest and hottest burning that I’ve ever been on. I’ve never, ever felt heat like that before.” Five fire departments, 24 firefighters and at least 12 law enforcement officers were helping to extinguish the fire, which raged during the 100-degree heat. Of those firefighters, 15 were treated for exhaustion, and another from the LOH fire department was hospitalized for dehydration. The firefighter, according to Totten, has since been released and is doing well.

Photos by Bobby Burch/The Ottawa Herald

ABOVE: A hay bale erupts into flames Tuesday afternoon near K-68 after fireworks set a pasture on fire, destroying more than 40 acres. In addition to damages to soy and wheat crops, the fire also destroyed $4,000 worth of hay, as well as two power poles and several rows of fences, Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director, said. LEFT: Firefighters from the Wellsville Fire Department work to stamp out a pasture fire Tuesday alongside I-35 using a fire broom, which is designed to fight fires in grass, leaves and underbrush. The fire temporarily slowed traffic along I-35 to a crawl, as dense smoke impeded motorists’ vision. hot as it’s been, it’s actually been worse that what it has been in the past,” Fredricks, who assisted firefighters Tuesday by directing traffic through dense smoke, said. “This is probably one of the worst years in comparison.” Tuesday’s fire, however, has been only one of about 15 fireworks-related blazes in the county, Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director, said. Although that number is an estimate, Radcliffe said, he added that many others have unconfirmed causes that could be linked to fireworks. And even though Tuesday’s fire has long been extinguished, dangers remain after a pasture fire that size, Radcliffe said. “For days, even up to a week, you can still have that stuff smoldering,” Radcliffe said, noting that the area’s cedar trees acted as kindling wood, sparking up several spot fires.

Smoldering situation In addition to the more than $4,000 in hay destroyed, the fire also caused unknown monetary damages to soy and wheat crops, two power lines and several fence rows lining I-35, Franklin County officials said. While he’s seen bigger grass fires during his 29 years experience as a firefighter, Jeff Carner Ottawa Fire Department chief, said it was among the biggest he’d seen in the area.

“That’s probably larger than any grass fire we’ve ever experienced here in Ottawa,” Carner said. “It was quick to ignite and spread faster than normal ... It always seems like when your working grass fires that the wind wants to pick up or change directions on you.”

Other Franklin County officials have noted the season has presented some unprecedented challenges. Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said recent weather conditions have caused a remarkable number of fires. “With the dry weather and as

HOME DELIVERY: (785) 242-4700

Burning questions The fireworks-related blaze Tuesday drew heated responses from residents in the Franklin County community, bringing rise to many questions regarding the safety protocol during such

circumstances. Others voiced concerns as to why Franklin County’s burn ban did not prohibit firework sales. “I’m really surprised the state did not ban fireworks this year,” Danielle Nichols Dunlap wrote on The Herald’s Facebook page. “Yes, they are enjoyable and a way for some to make a living, however, the risk of fire this year is too great. Why tempt fate?” Larry Fisher wrote: “When there’s a burn ban in the county, it should also include a firework ban.” Asked why the county’s burn ban didn’t prohibit fireworks sales, Radcliffe said it wouldn’t be fair to most county residents. “To me, it’s just like if we banned everybody from owning guns — then only bad guys would have guns,” Radcliffe said. “You can ban fireworks, but you’re still going to have people shoot them off. Just because you ban them in this county doesn’t mean you couldn’t go to another county, buy them and come back here and shoot them.” Regardless of a burn ban, “you’re still going to have those types of fires,” Radcliffe said. See FIRE, Page 9

Community News. Community Connections.


Weekender, July 7-8, 2012

FIRE: Dry (Continued from Page 1) “I think we made the right choice in doing media releases and asking people to be cautious,” he said. “You’ve got a speed limit out here on the highway, for instance. Does everybody follow it? No. ... It’s better to ask people to be cautious.” After speaking Monday with Franklin County commissioners, Radcliffe said if dry weather conditions remained the same, he expected an increased potential of fires, which is why the county burn ban remains in effect even after the holiday. “People just need to be careful,” he said. “It’s extremely dry — I cannot stress enough how careful people need to be.”

The Ottawa Herald

Page 9

Photo by Bobby Burch/ The Ottawa Herald

Firefighters scramble Tuesday to extinguish a pasture fire east of Ottawa near K-68 and I-35. The fire, caused by fireworks, destroyed about 40 acres and caused at least $4,000 worth of damage. The Tuesday blaze was only one of an estimated 15 fireworks-related fires in the county, Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director, said.

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