Dec. 4, Attached garage fire/dumb luck!

Jeremy and I were hauling cattle for our neighbors this day when driving empty back for our last load my pager toned for a house on fire, north of I-70 mile marker 237, stateing that smoke and flames visible. If this is true NOT GOOD. We've had calls to this place before where the guy was burning trash on the other side of the house and it appeared that the house was on fire when it was not. A part of my mind was hoping for that. I called in that I was responding to the Brookville station letting my neighbors know I was breaking off cattle hauling to respond to the fire call,(they are on the fire district too and responded to the Bavaria station). I also called Jeremy by phone since he did not have a pager and he headed to Brookville too. As I approached Brookville road from State street, I heard two calls of importance---one was Shane B. was bringing Brookville's engine,now I didn't have to go Brookville,(I could now park my truck and trailer, gear up and hop on the engine as it came north by me), and two, dispatch called that the residents called and there was a fire in the attached garage. Now some problems arose for me. I parked my truck/trailer off the road and called Shane to tell him where I was and to pick me up. Due to radio static and Shane's first response with the engine/using it's radio, he couldn't hear me or anybody else and I garbaged up the freq. trying to communicate. Also the house we were responding to was in the extreme northwest part of the county next to Lincoln co. so the road names were unfamiliar to most responders. Compounding this was two roads closed due to bridge repair making getting to this house more confusing. I finally got through to Shane on the radio, directing him to the scene and drove to the scene myself,(trailer and all). Fire trucks, fire fighters, law enforcement, all arrived at the same time to find the fire OUT! The homeowner had a high pressure hose attached to a washing machine which went under the couch/mattress that was burning and when it melted through it acted like a fire sprinkler. The homeowner then added water from another garden hose and supressed and put out the fire, (although how he did this with all the heat is beyond me---he wasn't singed any that I could tell). When I got there our fire units were setting up a ventilation fan to clear the smoke out of the area and I used the garden hose to smother the few remaining embers to reduce the smoke since we were concerned that the heat may have started a heat load fire in the rafters. All in all, a very fortunate ending since without the ruptured hose, we would have had a full blown house fire and would have most probably lost part of the house/garage.

December 3, car fire fought in my Sunday best.

I drove my pickup to church today since Liz taught Sunday school and had to be at church before I was done feeding cattle. Just as the sermon ended and a hymn began, my pager went off, (it was set on vibrate to reduce the tone in church) stating a vehicle on fire at I-70 mike marker 244. I went to the pickup and put half of my gear on and started the drive towards I-70 on the north side of Salina. I kind of figured that either Hedville would respondwith a bunch of guys,(the station is 1 mile from mile marker 244) or it was an overheated engine spewing steam. Hearing only squad 340 from Brookville rolling, and no other responders, I called dispatch that I was responding. After talking with Shane on 340, I realized that only two personel was enroute and 340 was a good distance from the fire scene. Nearing the area I saw a large cloud of black smoke and arriving on scene discovered a car totally evolved with fire setting on the off ramp at the Hedville exit. I reported this to dispatch as well as stateing that the occupants of the car were out since no deputy's or highway patrol officers were there yet. I donned the rest of my fire gear and had time to snap a picture of the car before Shane arrived with 340. We pulled two hoselines and attacked the fire getting it under control in around 10 minutes as other district 3 folks arrived to help. I let other personel mop up and cool down the hot spots while I took off my gear and snapped another picture. This is the 3rd time I've fought fire wearing a suit under my fire gear! Probably won't be the last either.

This is what a hot car fire looks like

Sheldon Abker cooling remnents of car

December 1,"Toxic trash pile fire".

I was just beginning evening chores when I heard district 7 paged for a large column of black smoke just west of I-35 and State st.(an unknown type of fire). In time, it was discovered that it was a controled burn but not called in and was located in our area of coverage not district 7. The Saline co. assistant emergency manager arrived, (due to the non call in), and discovered that toxic waste products were being burned, so he had us paged to put out the smoldering (smokey) fire. I figured that the Bavaria/Hedville stations would respond and I wouldn't be needed, but only a squad from Brookville called in so I drove to the scene and helped wet down the area staying WAY out of the smoke from burning computers,vinal siding,paint cans, boards and asphalt shingles. To say the least the home owners are in deep do-do but thats not my speciality.

November 26, tree pile fire.

I was sitting out in the pasture hill looking for deer poachers around 8:20 pm. when I heard a sherriff patrol officer call dispatch about a controled burn beginning to spread due to a frontal passage switching and increasing winds out of the north. Jeremy was in Brookville playing basketball, so I called him to start a truck rolling while I made the 11 mile drive to the station to bring a second truck. This he did and he was second on scene while I waited at Brookville station to see if I was needed. The landowner arrived and he enlarged the fire break around the fire, and the first unit on scene(Hedville) called the fire under control and everyone went back to the stations.

November 1, Moving van fire on home exit.

We were eating dinner around 12:30 pm when Liz called from her school bus that a semi/moving van had it's rear tires of the tractor on fire as she was coming off I-70 to come home. This was in Lincoln county's area of responsibility not district 3's but I knew that it would take their units a while to reach the scene, so Jeremy and I jumped into his pickup and drove the 2 mile drive to the fire scene. By the time we got there the fire had spread up the side of the van and the right side four tires underneath were toast. We geared up in anticipation of helping the first units arriving on scene when this fellow drove up in a pickup/topper and said he had several fire extinquishers with him (he must have been a fire salesman) so we used 6 or 7 in an attempt to "hold" the fire until Lincoln co. units arrived. I questioned the semi driver to see what his cargo was---it was furniture and one motercycle---so I could tell the arriving units what the cargo was---an important item to know before beginning the firefight. A squad from Westfall arrived first and I gave them a sizeup and Jeremy and I took their booster line to the right side and attacked the burning tires. As other units arrived, we kocked down the tire part of the fire but it was obvious that the fire had spread to the inside at the front of the van. Jeremy and some of the Westfall personnel took pry bars to force open the doors of the van while I continued to hose down any fire I could see. At this time I discovered that the heat had melted the fuel line coming from the saddle tank and was running a stream of diesel on the ground. I called out this new development and kept any sparks and fire from igniting the growing pool of fuel with my hoseline. Soon a firefighter brought a pair of vice-grip pliers borrowed from a bystanding farmer and pinched off the hose stopping the leak. By this time the fire had spread halfway through the van and was loaded so tight and high we couldn't get water on the fire to control it. Ellsworth co. units arrived and a road grader was used to tear open the side of the van to expose the fire for better fire control. At this point Jeremy and I was somewhat fought out so bowed out with all the extra firefighters on hand and they finally got the fire under control. Most all the household belongings were lost. I just wished we could have gotten water on the fire sooner but thats life in the country---it takes time to get units on scene due to distance from the fire stations.

Contents of van on fire

Using grader to open van

Extinguishing fire through access hole

October 3, all quiet on fire front

Haven't had much in the fire or first responder med. calls recently, just a false alarm at Cargill elevator today--an alarm malfunction. The wet period from mid August through September has increased forage growth in the pastures so after our first freeze there will be more fuel for range fires this fall/winter. Heard about the heat and dry winds ramping up the rangeland fire danger in southwest Kansas and Oklahoma today so would like to see things turn wet dawn there for those voulenteer firefighters sake.

August 4th standby at air show at Smoky Hill Weapons Range

We were asked to provide a squad for the parking lot area in case of fire at the air show. Jeremy and I took squad 340 to the range. We set up by the parking lot to monitor for any car/grass fires. This was an excellent area to view the flight demontrations. No fires occurred in our area so we had a good day.

Caught the Stealth on camera

Blackhawk showing it's firepower

A10 on the prowl

August 16th 12:30 am west of Brookville

We were paged to an injury/non intrapment wreck. Since it was almost straight south of our house, we cut across country to get there. It ended up being closer to Brookville than it had been paged. We came across one car and then another!!

Two vehicles were involved instead of one. Injuries were minor thanks to seatbelts and airbags. One person was transported to Salina. The two vehicles were not as lucky.

A little banged up

Airbags deployed

July fire runs.

We had two fire runs during July that I went on, both were on I-70. The first was around 11:30 at night paged as a semi on fire with grass burning in the side of the highway at the 240 eastbound mile marker. I drove up to I-70 and entered eastbound listening to the different fire trucks beginning to respond. Squad 350 pulled on a head of me at the Brookville exit so I followed it to the scene. We found about 200 yards of medium grass on fire as well as the south ditch burning. We pulled into the medium and I and Glendale's chief jumped on the back of 350 and together we knocked out the medium fire quickly. Law enforcement shut down the eastbound lane briefly so we could manuever and got theditch grass put out as well as other units extinguishing the semi rear tires.

The second fire was paged as a fire in the ditch at the 237 mile marker on I-70. This was near my house so I was first on scene and found two small fires. Squad 350 from Glendale arrived and we quickly put out the two small fires.

Mobile home fire, June 26.

I had just come into the house to get a drink after swathing some alfalfa when the pager toned for a fire under a trailer home. This call is one which could be big, or not much at all. I responded to the Brookville station and took engine 341 to the trailer park at Sundowner west. Just prior to my arrival the units on scene called the fire under control which was good. The first units on scene, Alan Mason and Dugan Frank, donned air packs and went inside the home after it was determined that there was no fire under the mobile home. They found a fire in a clothes closet smoldering and quickly doused it. I helped with the withdrawel and stacking of the fire hoses and took my camera inside the house to document the scene on fire initiation. My flash on the camera didn't work so the inside pictures were dark but the outside pictures were ok. Jeremy was working on a house in Salina, so didn't respond. I was cleared from the scene and took the Engine back to Brookville and went home.

Memorial day weekend, calls are increasing.

Had a grass fire call about a week ago while I was going to the field to plant sunflowers. Thinking that it shouldn't be too much I called Jeremy and he responded/rode truck 350 and put out hot spots. We have been getting some medical-first responder calls during the last few days---either the calls were on the other side of our area, or Liz was gone or at work. Monday, right after our family gathering/meal, we were paged for a field fire involving big bales. This was 4 miles from my house! I responded to dispatch as Jeremy was fishing with family and friends. Enroute I could not see any smoke and searched the area finding nothing. Dispatch called saying it was a cell phone skip from Rice county where the fire actually was. I met Jeremy and cousin Mark (Mark is on district 5 and had a pager so they responded too) along the road as I was going home. They misheard the call and was searching in a different place. Later, around 6 pm I decided to storm chase and was heading south toward Rice/Barton county passing Brookville when we were paged for a tree pile fire that district 6 was at, just west of Salina on crawford street. Reluctantly I broke off my chase and took truck 342 to the scene and stood by while a farmer disced a fire gaurd around the tree pile that was set on fire by somebody. I was soon released and returned to station and resumed my storm chase. Hopefully the rains of Monday night will preclude any grass fire threat for a few days.

Quiet time on the fire front.

May 18, we haven't had much in the fire call area, missed an extraction from a large elevator bin as we were hauling cattle to pasture and couldn't respond. Had a car wreck a couple of days ago but it was on the other side of our district so didn't go. If this heat persists the grass will dry enough to burn again so may start to get calls again and as wheat ripens and straw drys out in a couple weeks the potential for fires will rise again. Thats how it goes----busy at times with long inactive streches.

April 17, grass fire started by U.P. RR-----again!

Jeremy and I was in Salina finishing some banking when the pager toned for a grass fire along the railroad right-a-way east of Carneiro. Since there were several fires prieviously in that area we kind of thought that there would not be very much to burn but called in to dispatch that we were responding to Brookville station. This day the wind was from the east about 18 mph which was unusual. As we made the drive towards Brookville other firefighters started rolling fire trucks with two trucks having one person on board. We started thinking that we would not stop at Brookville to pick up a second truck in fovor of driving to the scene and becoming hose-men on the trucks with only one person aboard. Passing through Bavaria, I looked west toward the fire area and saw a large column of smoke. We talked this out with chief Scott on the radio deciding to stop in Brookville for the extra truck and chief Scott called dispatch to call Ellsworth Co. for mutual aid. We arrived on scene, Jeremy geared up and got the hoseline ready and I recieved instructions to attack the back left flank of the fire while other units attacked the head fire. The fire was burning through both short and very tall grass with lots of trees and plum thickets makeing for zig-zaging driving for me although Jeremy was making short work of the fire line with the 60 gpm nozzle on our truck 342. At this time Ellsworth Co. units arrived and combined with our trucks, piled on the fire quickly bringing it under control. After that we took our chain saws and cut up some burning logs so we could turn them to douse them completely and put out hot spots. Luckily the east wind kept the fire along the RR right-a-way and not jumping the railway since there were two houses on the other side which was not directly threatened. The fire burned 3/4 of a mile long and around 200 yards wide before we got it under control. Due to the hast in getting to the fire, I forgot to grab my camera out of the pickup so have no pictures to post of this fire. I also was somewhat suprised how well the fire carried through seemingly green grass indicating how dry things are. Grass fire season is definately not over yet!!

The second week of April brings heat--wind--fires to central Kansas.

With the middle of April here lots of folks are attempting to get their perscribed burns done in between wind events and still loosing control of their fires. We at district 3 had 3 calls this week, an automatic house alarm, where there was a clothes dryer moter fire triggered the call, a brush pile burn that spread to a medow, and a car on fire call that wasn't. Jeremy and I rushed home to grab our gear but were turned back before getting too far down the road. District 7 and 5 won the prize with multiple large grass fires and 3 structure fires north and east of Salina this week. Its tough fighting any fire when the temps are in the 90s especially when your not used to the heat yet. Hopefully we'll get coler temps/rain to "green" the grass enough to end this spring grass fire season.

March 28, grass fire at Smokey Hill Weapons Range.

I was in Salina doing some banking when we were paged to help Smokey Hill with a grass fire. It turned out that they had two separate fires and some of their equipment broke down. Jeremy and I rode on squad 350 and helped put out the first fire keeping it from jumping the road. We then refilled with water and was sent to the second fire on range. This time I took the camera along and Jeremy and I shot pictures as we were fighting fire. I was happy to help Smokey since they have assisted us on 3 fires this past winter/spring. Rangeland fire was "high" today, thank goodness winds were only around 5-10 mph.

Henry on the fire line at the Smoky Hill Fire.

March 21 precip. Ends rangeland fire danger.

The rains of last weekend has eased the threat of grass fires for a while. YEAH!!!

March 15 Another close shave.

Rangeland fire was extreme with gusty south wind. At 7 am Chief Mark called to tell me that the railroad grinding train was going to work west of Brookville. Bad news! There are hills, grass and no roads west of Brookville so if fires start off the RR or hiway 40 they are difficult to control and have burned for 5 miles ending up on our property/cattle. Sure enough only 45 minutes after his call we were paged for a fire started by the RR. West of Brookville. Fortionatelly the fire was in a previous burned area and didn’t get going good and a Ellsworth Co. unit knocked it out before we got there.

March 12 A close shave.

This day was warm and howling wind. Rangeland fire was extreme. Got home from church around 2 pm. And hung around the house watching the storms in Missouri . The pager goes off for a grass fire just south of Bavaria. This is bad news. Luckily there was a wheat field down wind of the fire which stopped it or the fire would have burned 3 miles before we could have stopped it. Jeremy and I drove to the scene and boarded squad 350 and put out some fire. I should have taken my camera and shot pictures since most of the action was on Jeremy’s side of the truck. Approximately 20 acres burned.

Henry doing fire training in Hedville.

March 8, house fire call.

We were just setting down to dinner when pager went off for a house fire on Brownhill Road. As Jeremy and I grabbed our fire bags and ran to the pickup I had two thoughts --- I thought the fire might be my invalid aunt which might be a rescue from a burning house and second, I was thankful that we had training on Brookville’s fire engine the previous Sunday where we did “refresher” training on it’s operation. As we made the 11 mile drive to the Brookville station Liz called by cell ---she looked up the address and it was a few miles away from my Aunt. Jeremy and I was 3rd unit on scene so we grabbed 321s charged hose line and was first to enter the house. Unbelievable!! The home owner had grabbed a 5 gallon bucket and threw several buckets of water through the broken window on the burning kitchen stove area ----and put it out!!! We found one smoldering area on the wall and cooled it with water and that was that.

Training on new engine.

March 4th Emergency management/homeland security exercise.

We (fire district 3), participated with Smoky Hill Weapons Range in a simulated mid air crash between 2 f-16 fighter aircraft with one plane crashing in our area of responsibility north of Brookville. A couple of days before we worked with Smoky fire in burning out the “crash area” . The guys at Smoky Hill really know how to do backfires (they have almost daily fires set by practice bombs thus have great experience). That was an eye-opener to do that with them. The exercise was vanilla but made one think about what to do if the real thing happened. As expected there was some communication problems that will be worked out.

center>Working with Smoky Hill on fire exercise

Working with Smoky Hill on fire exercise

Drought produces high fire danger.

The long term drought has brought on high rangeland fire danger for central Kansas. My heart goes out for the volunteer fire fighters in Texas and Oklahoma as well as southern Kansas. 700,000 acres burned in Texas panhandle in one weekend!!! They even lost an entire town if I heard the news right!!