County departments respond to I-70 fire Monday afternoon

By Jyll Phillips
Lincoln Sentinel Republican – April 24, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – April 29, 2014

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Every fire department in Lincoln County responded to a massive grass fire Monday, April 21 that according to Westfall Fire Chief Jeff White, “could have been so much worse.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but firefighters followed a railroad track, extinguishing multiple fires along the way, an indicator the fire was sparked by a train.

Besides Lincoln County firefighters, units from as far north as Asherville, and as far southwest as Holyrood responded and joined forces to keep the flames at bay.

White said Lincoln County had four separate fires, beginning at 260th and Hawk. A combination of wind and dry conditions kept the fire moving.

About 150 acres of grassland burned in Lincoln County, White said, but the worst of the blazes was in Saline County, where he estimates close to 1,000 acres succumbed to the fire.

The Salina Journal reported multiple accidents were caused by reduced visibility due to the heavy smoke, one involving five vehicles. A five mile stretch of I-70 was temporarily closed to traffic from both directions west of Salina.

Lincoln County Fire Departments were on the scene for about six hours.

“We put out one fire, and just moved east to the next one,” White said. “Our biggest concern was to keep it from crossing the Interstate. If it had crossed, this could have been a lot worse.”

White said the fires in Lincoln County were fairly easy to control, but the further east they went into Saline County, the worse the fires were.

A report in the Salina Journal said the worst of it was about two miles west of the Brookville-Tescott exit off I-70.

“There were no structures damaged,” White said. “And to the best of my knowledge there was no livestock loss from the fire.”

White said ranchers in the area were helpful in keeping the damage in check.

“We had a lot of good help from ranchers,” he said. “They moved cattle to protect them and allow us to do our jobs.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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