Wildlife is being blamed for a large grass fire that caused several homes near Langston Hughes Elementary to be evacuated Thursday morning.
You can view our breaking news report live from the scene, below.
Fifty firefighters responded to the fire, which was reported at 10:20 a.m. in the area of Bob Billings Parkway, east of the Kansas Highway 10 bypass, also known as the South Lawrence Trafficway. As the fire spread, smoke could be seen billowing above West Lawrence, from across the city.
Fire officials said the fire started when a squirrel came into contact with overhead electrical power lines.
"Due to the extreme dry conditions, wind gusts and abundance of dry vegetation, the fire began to spread rapidly to the northeast," said Eve Tolefree, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical division chief.
No damage estimate was available for the vegetation burned in the fire, Tolefree said. Minor damage was reported to the homes adjacent to the burned areas.
"They've saved a number of homes over here by Langston Hughes," said Sgt. Steve Lewis, Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokesman, from the scene of the fire.
The fire was contained and residents were allowed to return to their homes at 12:30 p.m., emergency officials said. A mandatory evacuation was ordered for homes on Palisades Drive and areas north, for homes on streets including Andrew John, Blue Nile, Diamondhead and Coving Drives, the city said. Dozens of homes were cleared, as a precaution.
Two firefighters were treated for minor heat exhaustion as they helped control the blaze, the city said. Fire crews will remain on scene the rest of the afternoon to put out hot spots.
Lawrence Public Schools superintendent Rick Doll responded to Langston Hughes Elementary, 1101 George William Way. About a dozen adults were evacuated from the school when the fire broke out. Visible flames were seen on the southwest field behind the school. The school served as the command post for the fire fight.
Multiple fire units from Lawrence-Douglas County, Eudora Township, Wakarusa Township, Kanwaka Township, Lecompton Township, Olathe, Lenexa, Overland Park, Shawnee, as well as Johnson County Med-Act, were called in to help with the fire fight.
The American Red Cross also responded to the scene to provide drinks to emergency responders.
We'll have a complete report about today's fire tonight on 6News at 6 and 10, only on Knology Channel 6.