Fire Fight

By Tim Unruh
Salina Journal – April 24, 2014


A discarded cigarette is thought to have started a pasture fire in northern Saline County on Wednesday afternoon, and lightning sparked fires in Ottawa County later in the evening.

The afternoon fire was brought under control about 5:30 p.m. near the Ottawa County line, said Hannah Stam-
baugh, director of Saline County Emergency Management.
But it was only the beginning of a long night for firefighters in Ottawa County, thanks to multiple lightning strikes, said a dispatcher in Minneapolis.
“We have a big fire, actually multiple fires, up in the northeast part of the county,” the dispatcher said.
The fire in Saline County charred about 300 acres of pasture and some trees, Stambaugh said.
Dispatchers in Salina first sent firefighters to an area about 5 1/2 miles north of Salina. The alert came just after 2 p.m.
The fire started in a ditch off of Thacher Road, just east of Ohio Street, about 5 miles north of Salina.
“It’s right off the roadway. That’s where it pretty much started,” Stambaugh said.
A lit cigarette was blamed, she said, although the culprit hasn’t been identified.
Three Saline County fire districts, as well as fire departments from Minneapolis and Bennington, battled the blaze.
A tree line and some preventative measures — including discing an area ahead of the blaze — helped stop the fire from spreading, she said.
Lightning sparks blazes
Stambaugh said that just as she was leaving the area of the Saline County fire, firefighters with the Bennington and Minneapolis departments were setting out to fight lightning fires.
The Ottawa County dispatcher said at 7 p.m. that six departments were involved in firefighting efforts throughout the county.
Saline County firefighters remained near the county line to watch for flare-ups in the earlier fire.
“Our fire guys are going to have to do fire patrols for the next couple of hours, if not all night,” Stambaugh said shortly after 7 p.m.
The wind had been blowing from the north, and it was expected to switch and begin coming from the west, she said.
Scanner traffic was heavy at 7:25 p.m., as firefighters were sharing information from various fire lines.
A chance of thunderstorms continued through today.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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