VICTORIA -- The Ellis County Fire Department responded Friday afternoon to a grass fire just off the shoulder of Interstate 70 near Victoria. The fire was reported near eastbound mile marker 167 and burned approximately 5 acres, spreading through the south ditch.

It likely was caused when a vehicle pulling a trailer blew a tire, causing sparks that quickly ignited the dry grass. The vehicle did not sustain additional damage from the fire.

Kansas Highway Patrol officers were on the scene directing traffic, but the highway was not closed.

“It got close,” said Darin Myers, Ellis County fire chief and emergency management coordinator. “The wind shifted on us for a short amount of time and reduced the visibility, but we never had to shut it down.”

Fire companies four and five out of Victoria and Hays responded to the incident and remained on the scene for approximately an hour monitoring hot spots.

A burn ban remains in effect for Ellis County due to continuing dry conditions, though Myers said he is monitoring the rain forecast and will move to lift the ban as soon as possible.

“The grass is starting to turn green, but with the fire out there, we didn’t have much wind, but it still moved pretty quickly,” Myers said.