Fire crews battle several grass blazes over weekend

By Tim Weideman and Chase Jordan
Junction City Daily Union – March 18, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – March 24, 2014

The Geary County Rural Fire Department fought four separate grass fires throughout the weekend, with one blaze covering 1,000 acres.

Geary County Emergency Services Director Garry Berges Monday said none of the fires in which the county department was the primary responder caused any structural damage.

Two of the fires, one near Humboldt Creek and Moyer Ranch roads and another in the 2000 block of Wolf Road, required repeat visits Saturday afternoon and into the overnight hours.

Berges said the weather played a factor in the fires.

“Definitely in trying to fight them,” he said. “Because the wind kept changing on us and there was an increase on Saturday.”

The first fire county crews responded to was reported at 10:25 a.m. Friday near 2314 Range Road in Milford, after an unauthorized burn became uncontrolled and burned three acres of grass. The Rural Fire Department responded with four trucks and one command vehicle.

At 6:08 p.m. Friday, the department sent four trucks and a command vehicle to 11272 Humboldt Creek Road. The fire claimed 60 acres of grassland.

The fire may have been caused by discarded smoking material, Berges stated in a report.

Later, the department sent two trucks and one command vehicle to 8000 Clarks Creek Road at 8:37 p.m. for a controlled burn that had become out of control. The fire burned 10 acres of grassland.

At 1:45 p.m. Saturday, crews returned to Humboldt Creek Road, this time near its intersection with Moyer Ranch Road. The department sent seven trucks and a command vehicle. The Fort Riley Fire Department assisted with three trucks and the Grandview Plaza Fire Department sent a truck. Area farmers and residents with four-wheelers equipped with water units also helped.

“They brought their four-wheelers and spray units to help us out,” Berges said. “They got to areas that we couldn’t get to with our trucks. They were a big help out there. We appreciate that very much.”

Crews finished by 8 p.m., but not before 1,000 acres of grassland, brush and trees had been torched.

After finishing, the county department sent five trucks and a command vehicle to assist the White City Fire Department with a grass and brush fire in the 2000 block of Wolf Road.

“White City was out there all afternoon fighting that one,” Berges said. “A rancher lost a hay shed and some other outbuildings.”

Berges said the contents of those buildings included a tractor and a hay baler.

Crews finished fighting the fire at 9:30 p.m., but returned to the area of Humboldt Creek and Moyer Ranch roads to conduct back burning operations after a severe wind change.

While crews continued those operations, one truck was sent back to Wolf Road to help fight a rekindle caused by wind conditions. That truck was finished by 11:15 p.m. and returned to Humboldt Creek Road.

Firefighters wrapped up work in the Humboldt Creek Road area at 1 a.m. Sunday.

Though the department was kept busy with fires over the weekend, Berges said many farmers won’t burn their pasture land with such dry and dangerous conditions.

“Conditions are too dry,” Berges said. “We got the snowfall earlier this year. That’s not enough moisture.”

Berges added motorists can help prevent future grass fires.

“We just hope people will not discard material out of their car windows,” he said. “If they dump the cigarette, it should be put in the ashtray. Just don’t toss it out the window because you never know what it’s going to cause.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster