Hay bales burn on back of truck

By Mark Gardner
Ellsworth County Independent Reporter – April 27, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – May 19, 2017

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Monday morning for emergency responders was filled with smoldering bales of hay and high winds.

At 8:30 a.m., Ellsworth firefighters were paged to a semi-load of hay that was on fire on the frontage road in front of Ampride and El A De Aros Mexican restaurant. The bales caught fire while the truck was on Kansas Highway 156.

The truck had lost the air in its two front axle passenger tires on the trailer and was dragging the rims for a undetermined amount of time. The damage caused the hay to catch on fire. Once the driver noticed, he pulled off the highway and into Ampride, which also sells gas.

The driver had no comment when asked why he did not know he was dragging two rims and had a fire behind him on the truck.

High winds from the west added to the danger as the driver pulled less than 500 feet east of Ampride.

Deb St. Clair, manager of Ampride, said her initial reaction when she first saw the truck was nervousness at having it so close to the fuel pumps. However, she had faith in the Ellsworth Fire Department to manage the situation.

Her biggest challenge, she said, was dealing with the increase in traffic due to curious residents visiting the store to see what was going on.

Bob Kepka, Ellsworth Fire Chief, dispatched his water tankers to assist with extinguishing the flames and smoldering bales.

Across the street, KanEquip’s service manager, Heath Ehrlich, who also is a volunteer firefighter, saw the truck on fire and immediately ran to the company’s skid steer with forks and headed over to the truck. He started removing bales in hopes of saving what he could.

“It was pure adrenalin, I saw the truck and wanted to help,” Ehrlich said.

After soaking and removing all the smoldering bales for about an hour or two, firefighters had the fire under control and out. It took almost all of Monday to remove the left over debris from the frontage road before things began to look normal again.


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

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