Firefighters from several fire districts battle grass fire for hours

By Eric Wiley
Salina Journal – April 7, 2017

Firefighters from several rural fire districts spent about six hours Thursday battling grass fires in muddy pastures west of the Smoky Hill Air National Guard possibly caused by an errant flare dropped by a C-130 aircraft.

Their efforts were hampered by fire engines that kept getting stuck in muddy pastures, according to Scott Abker, chief of Saline County Rural Fire District No. 3.

The fires were in the area of Spring Creek Road and Arcola Road, directly west of the bombing range, Abker said.

Abker said he was told the fire was started by a flare that was dropped in a green pasture 2 miles east of Spring Creek Road by a C-130 aircraft.

“We didn’t speak with anyone from the weapons range command, but that’s what we were told when we arrived on the scene,” he said. “Out there it’s all grass and there are really no good places to stop it. It’s the middle of nowhere. Stopping it at Spring Creek was our best bet.”

Firefighters from District 3 were sent to the fire about 1:30 p.m., said Hannah Stambaugh, Saline County Emergency Management director.

The fire took a while to put out “due to really muddy conditions,” Abker said.

Firefighters from Saline County rural fire districts 6 and 9, along with firefighters from the Kanopolis, Marquette and Ellsworth fire districts in Ellsworth and McPherson counties, assisted in extinguishing the fire.

About 10 fire trucks got mired in the mud.

“At one point, there were five trucks stuck in the mud. We had to call mutual aid to help us put the fire out and get us out of the mud,” Abker said. “Every time we thought we had an area of the fire out or under control, a truck would run out of water and someone (a fire truck) had to replace them. It was a constant battle.”

Fire units from the bombing range also responded to the fire, bringing mules, a grass rig and a tractor, which was used to help remove fire trucks when they got stuck.

Abker said the fire burned for two miles by about a mile.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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