January 19,catching up.
Since the first of the year, we at district 3 have had numerous medical calls which I do not go to. We had one fire call on Jan. 10, like 3 am in the morning. It was at Brownhill Rd. one mile south of State St. a pickup on fire. When I was in route my pickup thermometer showed 6 degrees. I got to the scene after sq. 340 and they had the fire knocked down pretty well. I took the halogen bar and pried the hood up and cooled down the engine area. Apparently the driver was DUI and tried to drive down a "dead" mile that had a fence across it. He became entangled in the wire and tried to back out uphill and either the spinning tires caught on fire or the exhaust caught the grass underneath on fire. Anyway the pickup was totally burned up. When I went home at 3:30 the temp was 3!
January 27, grass fire at Humbarger/Link Rd.
Grassland fire index was in the moderate category today. Temps were in the high 40s and winds were southwest around 12. I was unloading a portable corral at Jeremy's when I heard the pager warble. I was behind hills so no more of the page came through. I checked my phone text and got the area but had to call Jed to see whether it was fire or med. I switched trucks and called in my response. I was somewhat confused as truck numbers were not adding up so I headed to Brookville for a squad due to a fair amount of smoke in the fire area. I met Doug L. bringing Sq. 360 by himself and my truck puzzle was cleared up. I followed him to the scene and we went on the attack. We took the west fire flank while Sq. 320 and 350 took the east and north. Then Sq. 350 and our truck cleaned up the south side and mopped up the west side again. We refilled off of E-321 and went home. About 6 to 7 acres burned.
Picture of the group refilling our Squad before we went home.
Picture looking over the command vehicle at the burned area. I think the fire started the same old way most do. The landowner burned some brush piles when there was snow on the ground. The snow melted, the grass dried, and the breeze carried a spark from the remaining logs.
Picture of Sq. 350 leaving the fire area to get ready to leave the scene.
February 20, two calls in one day.
Grassland fire danger was in the "high" category with winds out of the northwest and temps in the 60s. The first call was around/west of the Hedville exit, I-70 stating control burn now out of control. I was a mile from home and Jeremy was feeding nearby. We headed to the scene as there was a good response from all stations. Just as we got on scene the Hedville folks had the fire under control so we were called off and went home. The second call came at 10 pm stating trees on fire just southwest of Brookville. I responded and listened to the Brookville guys trying to find a way to the fire. I also had a time trying to find a way to the scene. When I arrived, I found a lot of smoldering logs and trees that the guys had wetted down. While I was driving in I called Jeremy and he said if we needed chain saws he'd come. I called him and said we needed the saws. He showed up as I was climbing a tree that had a burning branch we couldn't cover with a hose stream. He handed the saw up and I cut the branch down. We cut up several logs and doused them and I got home just after midnight. The fire was started by kids messing around with a camp fire. Our first guys on scene saw them driving away as they approached.
Feb. 21, grass fire at the 235 marker, I-70.
Grassland fire danger was in the high category today with north winds at 18 and temps in the 50s. I was snoozing in bed listening to nasscar race around 3 pm. when this call came in. The scene was close to my home so I was first on scene. I gave a size up and took incident command. The fire started off of I-70 and burned into a 4 acre hay meadow. There was wheat fields south of the main fire but the west flank burned through a tree/fence row into a pasture west. I had the fence cut into the east part of the fire and had the arriving squads go on the attack. The guys on Sq. 350 called the land owner of the west pasture and determined the best way to enter. Chief 301 arrived and he and truck 350 attacked that fire. In short time arriving squads had the east fire knocked down but there were lots of burning logs. Lincoln county units arrived as the fire was just inside of Lincoln county. They helped us wet down the perimeter as well as the many logs. I then released them to go home and after a check of the perimeter, I called the fire out and we went home. The fire started most likely from hot fragments off a semi tire.
Picture of Lincoln and district 3 fire fighters mopping up smoldering logs. Jeremy is far left behind a firefighter. He brought T-342 to this fire.
Picture of James wetting down a brushy area. The fire burned through the hay meadow and into a brushy/treey draw before reaching the wheat field.
Picture of chief 301's command vehicle and Sq. 350 in the west pasture. Chief 301 helped keep me informed of the status of the west fire line.
Picture of Lincoln's Westfall tanker truck. It refilled all Lincoln county trucks that were empty.
March 8, out of control grassfire at one mile south of Crawford/Eff creek Rd., Ellsworth County.
Grassland fire index was in the "moderate" category this day with northwest winds at 12, and temps in the low 60s. Our neighbors were going to burn a pasture between pastures we own which they have done a few times before. Chief Abker called me in the morning asking if I thought it was ok for them to burn. I told him it should be ok, conditions were good. While feeding cattle, I could see smoke where they were burning the perimeter around the section of pasture. After feeding, around noon, I drove over and inspected. All looked good as they were back-burning a good perimeter against the breeze, so I went home for dinner. At around 2 pm. the pager went off for a control burn now out of control in that area. I headed for the scene with Jeremy following in Grandma's truck. I could see lots of heavy smoke from the area (4 miles away) and knew the fire was in our pasture. Jeremy and I got on scene and I gave a size up and took incident command. Our pasture had pretty tall grass in the fire area and the fire had already burned a wedge halfway across the pasture. At that time, the west fire line was roaring while the east fire line was burning much slower. As fire commander I not only needed to get the fire out, but I also wanted to stop it from burning into the neighbors to the south (CK Ranch). Going through extra fences hinders fire control. I took a calculated chance and had the first squads punch into the west fire line and try to knock out the fastest burning area to the head fire. At this time The east fire line took off too. I called dispatch for Saline district 7, and Ellsworth county Kanopolis fire units for mutual aid. My gamble to cut off the head fire failed when Sqds. 340 and 350 ran out of water just before the head fire. But they did slow the fire spread down some. Next, I spent time positioning water supply trucks. One other problem I had was that arriving trucks mistook the controlled part of the burn as out of control and were delayed getting into the real fire. Also Kanopolis trucks were on another frequency so I couldn't talk to them directly. Soon the Ellsworth county command truck came and I was able to plan an attack with Ellsworth trucks. After that, fire knockdown was achieved quickly but not before the fire burned into CK Ranch a ways. This was helped in CK where there were some trees that had not much dead grass under them so the fire damped down when reaching there letting the fire trucks catch up. I released District 7 trucks then Ellsworth county trucks while district 3 trucks kept mopping up hot spots. I terminated the incident and cleared the remaining trucks around sundown and started to fix fence/shut gates. Around 225 acres burned in our pasture and 20 in Ck ranch. The fire occurred when the neighbors had a hot spot rekindle behind them and burned out of their back burn perimeter.
Meghan's picture from the south end of our pasture looking north at the expance burned. The smoke is coming from the original burn that continued on burning.
Consultation. Jeremy, (in yellow, back to picture) and I talk strategy on how to finish mopping up the fire. We are at the water staging area.
Picture of a couple of our squads about 3/4 mile away patrolling the perimeter for relights. Soon after, I ended the incident and all went back to the stations.
Meghan's picture from our north pasture looking south as she was going home. This was the finish of the original controlled burn.
March 10, control burn out of control 31 Rd. and ave R in Ellsworth County.
Grassland fire index was in the "moderate" category with variable winds around 12 mph and temps around 70. I was just ready to leave for Salina for a dental appointment when this call came in at 12:40 pm. After receiving the page, Liz and I tried to figure out where the fire was. (It turned out the fire was not even in our area of responsibility so we weren't familiar of the address). I headed to Brookville, listening to district 3's response, talking to Jeremy about route to the fire and canceling my dental appt. Through Jeremy, I knew Lane J. was waiting for me at the station. We took T-342 and drove to the scene, (Sq. 340 left the station earlier). We got on scene along with Sqds. 330, 320, 350 and 331. Sq. 340 was now out of water. The fire had burned through one pasture and was crossing a fence line burning north. It had a little ways until it would burn into a hilly, rocky, taller grass area. Lane and I were on the south side of the fence and we helped as we could---Lane was arching his water stream over the fence. Then smoke poured in from the east fire line and at times I couldn't see Lane on the front of our truck. I had to back out three times due to this visibility/breathing problem. I'm thinking, "this is not working" so I drove to the south end of the east fire line (no trucks yet working it) and swung into the attack with good visibility. We knocked out this fire line and started to meet other trucks working our line. They had finished off the head fire before it got into the bad terrain. The fire was finally knocked down. We were fighting this fire southwest of the Smoky Hill bomb range and a four ship of F-16s was circling our area as they began their run ins to the target area. One pilot must have been a fire fighter because he tightened his turn and roared over head around 500 ft. Not often do we get an air show while fighting a fire. Marquete fire trucks arrived (it was their fire) and started to help with mop up. They received another call and left quickly. District 3 mopped up a little more and all left the scene except Me, Lane and Chief Abker. We watched/worked the perimeter until Marquete trucks came back then went home.
Picture of Lane in front of T-342 mopping up hot spots on the east fire line.
After the fire was knocked down, more trucks showed up on the east fire line to mop up.
Picture looking north from the east fire line at the length of the fire and where it was stopped before the rough area.
Picture shows the first Marquette crew returning after their second call. We were able to go home right after this picture was taken. Whew! Time to eat dinner that I missed at noon.
March 11, grass fires everywhere.
Grassland fire index was in the low "high" range. Winds were southeast at 15 mph and temps around 70. It seemed everybody wanted to burn today. In the morning our neighbor stopped by to tell me that he would be burning 4 miles east of my house. Another person called wanting to burn in Ellsworth county. After I finished feeding, I drove to the Ellsworth planned burn site and inspected/talked with the land owner. I convinced him to wait until morning when winds would be lighter. As I began to drive back we were paged to the neighbors controlled burn that was now out of control. Parts of that area was EXTREMLY hilly/rocky called devils backbone. I called my high school help and told them to load the sprayer onto my Polaris ATV. I got home, distributed some fire gear to the boys and we headed to the fire in my truck and the ATV. We got to the fire and backed a district 7 truck on the east fire line. Jeremy and Lane were on T-342. I never saw Jeremy all as we helped mop up with my ATV. Around this time we were paged to help Ellsworth county on a large fire south of Ellsworth. Then district 7 was paged to help Ottawa county on a large fire to our north. After spraying out 5 100 gallon tankfulls mopping up, my hired hands and I left and went home to farm a bit. Jeremy stayed and helped saw down some large trees that were on fire next to I=70. While planting some oats, I got a text that Ellsworth county put on a burn ban.
Jeremy's picture of Sq. 340 coming for a refill. He and Lane had just refilled and were going back on the attack where the heavy smoke is.
Jeremy on the attack.
Rainbow marks the spot.
Two calls with Red Flags a waving.
Grassland fire danger was in the "extreme" category today. Temps were in the 60s with winds steady out of the northwest at 25 mph then gusting to 40 around 5 pm. I was in Salina getting repairs and dentist visit in the afternoon. I listened while District 2 had a rekindle of a controlled burn yesterday. Then District 7&5 had a grass fire as well as a tree fire on north Ohio St. Things were getting dicey for the incident commander so he asked for two squads and a tanker from us. We had trucks immediately respond so I did not have to respond to this fire. Just before I was finished in Salina the fire was under control and our trucks were released. I had just made it to Grandma's to pick up my granddaughters when my phone "texed" for a fire just west of Brookville. I called Jeremy then picked him up and headed for the fire. We got on scene to a burn from yesterday that had several trees on fire. The increasing wind had them burning and smoking lustily. Jeremy and Chief 301 conferred with the hired hands of the burn and then walked the perimeter of the burning trees. They decided to let the land hands watch the trees during the night as there wasn't much burnable downwind. After that we loaded up and went home at sunset.
March 18, wreck on the south side of Kanopolis dam.
It was around 9am. when Dave called asking if I heard about a wreck we were paged to. I had heard nothing and checked with Liz and Jeremy---they heard nothing also. Dave called back and said the wreck was bad and around Kanopolis dam. He had called Chief Abker and got more information and was told he could take a squad for help. Since the wreck sounded bad, with a possibility of a helicopter transport I decided to go if a LZ was needed. We got on scene and found the most serious injury had already been transported and the helicopter called off. Dave and I did a stint of traffic control then was released by Law Enforcement.
March 20, controlled burn out of control at highway 141 and ave. j, Ellsworth county.
Grassland fire index was in the moderate category today with winds west northwest at 10 with a temp of 50. Today would be the only day that there were no high winds for the next several days so everybody was out burning. The land owner called me yesterday wanting to burn but was short of equipment and man power. I told her what she needed to have and to do and she did pretty good on both. They were back burning the east perimeter when the shifting winds over a hill caused the fire to breach their perimeter. They called 911 and used all their assets to attack this fire. When I got on scene with Sq. 340 and 342, they had the fire basically back under control. I took incident command and directed what little effort we had to do. I also turned back all units not on scene. After that I looked over the perimeter, consulted with the land owner and Chief Abker. I terminated the incident but had Sq. 340 stay with the perimeter burning team until they got by a "dicey" spot and they left the scene. No more calls came in from there and its dark. Tomorrow is near red flag conditions so hope nothing happens.
March 22, Mutual aid with district 6, grass fire/pickup on Fairchild road.
Grassland fire index was in the extreme category with southwest winds and temps in the 70s. This call came in around 5 pm. By the time Jeremy and I got on scene the grass fire was knocked out and firefighters were cooling down the "shell" of the pickup truck. About 5 acres burned.
March 23, a emergency manager's nightmare.
While we gathered together at the previous fire, Kody showed me a radar image of smoke from a fire in Oklahoma, moving into Kansas. I watched it off and on after I got home. At 10 pm., it had burned 20 miles and was into Kansas. This morning, while checking weather on the computer, I was dismayed to see new smoke plumes in Kansas and Ok. starting up from the east flank of the old fire. Grassland fire index was 103 today. 50 is the beginning of extreme. Winds were gusting to 45 mph. With multiple fires rekindling from the previous burn as well as the head fire not stopped during the night, it was an emergency managers nightmare. Towns and farmsteads were evacuated and on the news, it was said that this may be the biggest fire in Kansas history.
A postscript to March 23.
March 25. The fires in southern Kansas are still ongoing. A fire not reported on much before is a fire that burned from the Hutchison area past Burton. It may have burned a path length of 20 miles or more. Most all of our Saline county rural fire district's sent one squad or two and formed a cadre of trucks to help the embattled Burton area fire fighters. They are reporting back almost unbelievable scenes of carnage. The fire that burned from Oklahoma into Comanche/Barber counties has grown to epic size. Air mapping shows over 300 square miles has burned. Today, on the news, it was stated that this is the largest fire in US history. Still, not much has been said nationally, about it. A 600 acre (1 square mile) fire in California gets national attention, but we in the plains do not. Forest fires burn for days to cover several square miles. The Kansas grass fire burned 300 square miles in 2 days basically. Horrendous stories are now coming out. Houses lost. Cattle burned (especially baby calves) or lost because of burned down fences. Hay bales burned. People trapped. Bridges dropped. It goes on and on. ALMOST EVERY WINTER AND SPRING, we ranchers live with this threat. The combo of heavy fuels (tall thick grass), high winds and low humidity are the recipe for disaster like what happened in southern Kansas. Most non-ranchers are not aware of this. As a fire fighter, one can only try to save a house when the wind roars with a fire raging and hope the head fire burns into a cultivated field somewhere. Dear God, please send rain so the pasture will green up. PS. March 25. The Salina Journal says in an article all fires in Kansas started the 23 burned 600 square miles. The Oklahoma/Medison Lodge fire burned 40 miles in 12-15 hours.
Picture of a rancher riding his horse while moving cattle away from the fire. On big fire like this, there is always a desperate scramble by ranchers to get their cattle out of the way of the oncoming fire. Picture by Doug Laas.
Did not make it! Picture of a fire truck that tried to escape the fire when the wind shifted. The driver jumped out and ran across the highway and "burrowed" into the ditch. The fire then rolled right over him but his fire gear protected him. The truck was a total loss. Picture by Doug Laas.
Night time shot from an airliner flying at 35,000 ft. of the fire in southern Kansas.
March 27, grass fire at north 26th Rd. Ellsworth county.
Grass land fire was in the "high" category with light winds and temps in the 50s. I was eating supper around 8:30 when this call came in. I picked up Jeremy and headed for the fire south of our houses. Chris R. got on scene first and for a while couldn't find any fire. It was discovered that the fire was out already so truck 340 and 342 did a perimeter mop up. Jeremy and I left the scene as we were not needed on the trucks. Shane and Doug called me wanting to know what the wind would do the next day so they could know what side to mop up the most. I told them and they emptied their trucks on the horse chips and went home.
April 5, fire in pasture at Magnolia and Hohneck Roads.
Grassland fire was in the extreme category with red flags a flying. Temps were in the 70s with winds, southwest, gusting to 40 mph. I was home after working fence around 4 pm. when Kody called about storms around Ellsworth producing lightning. I gathered my chase gear and set up around highway 40/141 watching for fires and any possible severe weather. The storms weakened so I drove to Brookville and joined Kody at the Brookville station where we compared notes. At this time the call came in. I told Kody to wait and gear up plenty of firefighters would arrive momentary and I drove to the scene. I was first on scene and called a small grass fire and turned back some of our responding units and took incident command. Squads 330, 340 and 360 arrived and made quick work of the fire. I got information about the incident and gave it to chief Abker. The fire started when a farmer rolled out a bale with a skid-steer. When he returned with another bale the first bale was burning probably due to a spark off the exhaust. This incident was a good one as it took around 45 minutes from call to leaving the scene, especially with the high winds.
The fire is out. Doug and Kody are talking with the skid steer driver as Squad 360 is mopping up hot spots in the background. There was wheat fields and tilled fields down wind of the fire scene making for much less problem with this fire.
I relayed some info to the sheriff deputy on the nearby road. When I came back, chief Abker was walking the fire line checking for hot spots with Sheldon and Siarra mopping up behind him in Sq. 360. Loren was doing hot spots also with line off of 330.
April 9, car fire at highway 141 and avenue J.
Grassland fire index was in the very high category with red flag conditions during the day time. I was just starting to eat supper around 8:30-9 when this call came in. I called in my response to the scene and headed south with Jeremy one mile ahead of me. We got in the area and found law enforcement cars all over the place. We finally found the burning car where it ran off the road on ave. J. Dave and several other firefighters arrived as we walked down to the burning car. He pointed to the control panel on E-341 and started pulling hoses. I set the pump up and charged the 11/2 line when the hose men were ready and they started in on the car. T-342 arrived and they pulled their booster line to help with the blazing car. There was a circle of grass burning away from the car. I then pulled some line off the booster on E-341 and gave it to Jeremy. He pulled more line out and knocked all the burning grass out from the 130 psi I was delivering from the engine. In short time, the fires were knocked out. We drained and restacked hoses and went home. The story was that a highway patrol trooper tried to stop the car and he ran. The driver lost control or deliberately drove through the ditch into a meadow where the driver bailed out and ran with the car catching on fire.
Jeremy took this picture of the fire scene before E341 and T-342 arrived. The car was fully involved located in the right center of the fire circle.
April 11, grass fire at Stimmel and Muir roads.
I'm falling behind posting these fire calls and do not remember all accounts. Grass land fire index was in the very high category I think. I was driving home from Salina and was at State and Brookville roads when this call came in. I called in I was going straight to the fire taking Brookville Rd. north initially. I turned around and went back to State St. then driving east. I figured the Brookville guys would respond with the trucks but I wanted the option to go to Brookville anyway. After driving a couple more miles I had not heard any truck leave the Brookville station. I called in that I would now head for Brookville and turned south. Of course, after 1 mile both grass trucks left Brookville. I continued on anyway thinking I could take E-341 for water supply. By the time I got to Brookville the IC. turned Glendale and Brookville back to stations. It was a small fire.
April 13, working fires almost all day.
Grassland fire was in the "high" category today with winds out of the south at 12 sometimes gusting to 20 mph. Jeremy and I were helping our neighbor burn 1200 acres of pastures 2 miles south of our house. Around or after 11 am. we were paged to Crawford and Muir where a brush pile fire got out of control and burned into some trees. We was just driving into Brookville when command said Bavaria and Hedville trucks could take care of it. We drove back to our neighbors controlled burn and started to help with that again. Around oneish we were paged to Plesent Hill and Reese roads for a controlled burn out of control. Things got dicey when Squad 350 arrived and stated that a horse barn was threatened. Some of our trucks were still at the Crawford road fire. Due to this, District 7 was called for mutual aid. We got on scene with Jeremy riding on T-342 and I got on Sq. 320. We saved the barn and put out the out of control areas then left the scene and returned to our neighbors burn one more time. I stayed on till the burn was completed around 6 pm., a long day working around grass fires.
May 11, trees etc. on fire wherever.
The winds were blowing out of the north at around 5-10 mph this night. I was preparing for bed at 11 pm. when the call came in. The original address put the fire location not far west of Salina on old 40 highway. I drove to the Brookville station listening to Dave and Shane taking 340 & 342 to the fire. When I got to Brookville, I called that I would wait and if they needed more water, I'd bring E-341. After a long silence, chief Abker called dispatch stating they could not find any fire, was there a better location? The reply was startling. Some where around Mushroom state park in Ellsworth Co. 20 miles west. Since I was now the nearest fire fighter to the adjusted scene, I took off west on old 40 highway. I stopped at the park and found some night photographers. They said that earlier they saw a glow and smelled smoke to their north (around Carnerieo). I checked east of that town along a creek and found nothing. I met an Ellsworth Co. deputy on the north side of town. He said he could smell heavy smoke on the south-central part of town but didn't know where the fire was. I thought "follow your nose to the fire dude" so I drove down to where he said the smoke was and followed it to the fire on the northwest side of town. I called in the location to our trucks and checked on what was on fire. A pile of old RR ties was smoldering as well as a pile of old car tires and two junk cars had smoldering tires. The home owner came out and I had him go and talk with chief Abker. Two of our new young firefighters were pulling the booster line to the fire so I supervised them turning ties over as well as tires and wetting the entire are down. When we got that done, we rolled up the hose and went home. The clock in our house said 2:30 am. when I headed for bed. The home owner said he was burning brush piles when the fire spread into the cars and ties. He is a frequent flyer in the past---not keeping track of his fires.
June 22, combine fire, west side of Smoky Hill weapons range.
This call came in after the noon hour if I remember right. I took off to the call while Jeremy stayed home to cut wheat. I talked with Dave on the way to the fire telling him to bring 341 and I would go to the scene. I arrived at the scene just after the sheriff deputy and took incident command. There was no fire and I turned back all district 3 responders. The combine operator picked up a tree limb in the thick wheat and it lodged in the feeder chain assembly smoking the feeder belt. Afterwards I met with Chief 301 and gave him information for his records and went home.
June 24, grass fire in the Carnerio city limits.
This call came in after 2 pm. Temps were in the 90s and dews in the 60s with gusty south winds. Jeremy and I headed to Carnerio direct from home. As we drove up to the town, it looked like the north half of the town was on fire. I took incident command and started to locate the high priority areas for our trucks to attack. Jeremy was helping home owners attack the most serious parts of the grass fire (around an unoccupied house). Access was tough due to privacy fences and junk laying in driveways. Sq. 330 arrived and I teamed it up with Jeremy in his area. Sq340 arrived next and I had them attack a vacant lot with tall brome grass that was burning towards a house. Once the home owner helped them cut a chicken wire fence, they had access and did an excellent job knocking the fire out. After that, I had 350 and 360 mop up burning wood in various junk piles and the fire was under control. For a while, I was teetering on the edge of calling Kanopolis for mutual aid but 340s quick hit on the lot fire cleared up visibility (and problems) as well as 330 preventing the fire to consume the vacant house, I was now good to go. We wetted down the area where a lot of junk was and I called the fire out and we went home. The fire started when our frequent flyer junk yard person was burning a small pile of wood. The problem started when he left the fire and it spread into adjacent grass and with the wind, it took off. Moral to the story: green grass will burn now with the dryness and heat recently.
July 7, possible structure fire in Carnerio.
The weather today was hot (92), and very humid (dews in the low 70s). I was swathing hay and Jeremy was discing when this call came in during the late afternoon. It took a while for Jeremy and I to get to the pickup and call in our response. The page stated smoke coming out of a brick building window (old carnerio school). Dave arrived in Carnerio with E-341 and called a controlled burn right next to the old school house. Again it was our frequent flyer junk yard guy burning up trash. We found that he was burning plastic pipe and old tires wich was illegal burning. Dave had turned all responding district 3 trucks back except chief 301. I had Dave park 341 closer to the school and our firefighters on scene pulled the booster line out and extinguished the trash barrel as well as some burning tires nearby. This was accomplished and we rolled up the line and shut off the pump. Chief 301 arrived, surveyed the scene and he talked with the land owner about his burning. We were good to go and went home. Although irritating to keep coming to calls here, I'm glad we didn't have a real fire with all the heat.
Picture of the plastic burning in the trash barrel next to the old school house making it look like the structure was on fire.
July 23, swather on fire north of Armstrong road west side of Brookville road.
We actually had a call last night---RV on fire. There was a scramble to find it on I=70. It was found on the east bound ramp of the Brookville exit. There was no fire so we were good to go home. Today's call came in around 2:16. The weather was hot again, temps around 100, dews in the 67 area with south winds around 15 mph. This fire was 4 1/2 miles from home so I got on scene first. I found the swather partially involved with a small grass fire burning behind it. I took incident command gave my size up and then redefined the scene area. Jeremy arrived and he, with another firefighter and the swather driver beat out the grass fire. Dave arrived with E-341 and I had the guys pull the front speed lay hose and booster line. It took about a half a minute to knock down the fire on the swather. At this time, I turned back the rest of the responding trucks. We worked the perimeter of the grass and cooled the axel/tire/hub. I had the guys roll/stack hoses and terminated the incident after getting info for our records. This was a quick hit for us at district 3. Jeremy had his Go-Pro going and sent me these still pictures of it.
This was what Jeremy saw when he arrived after me. My truck is behind the burning swather. I'm giving a size up and updated info to our responding guys as well as thinking how we can deal with the grass fire while waiting for the fire trucks to arrive.
Jeremy beginning the attack with the 11/2" hose from E-341 seen in the background.
Did not take long to achieve fire knockdown.
September 23, Cargo van fire in Carnerio.
I was raking hay in Saline county around noon when this call came in. The temp was 88 with a south wind at 20 MPH. I called Grandma by C-phone and had her meet me with my pickup and fire gear. We headed to Carnerio listening to the response and trying to figure what fire problems there were. We got on scene after E-341 and Sqds. 340 & 350. I geared up and helped cool down the van as well as areas around the van. I helped James try to cool down a hot spot under the van's floor. We finally took the halogen tool and punched a hole in the floor, (James had climbed inside the van to do this). This helped matters a lot. After that, I powered down E-341 pump and we drained hoses and stacked them while Tate (incident commander)got information. The fire was started by our frequent flyer junk yard man while he worked a part out of the junk van. The problem was the wind was blowing hard and a spark got into a pack rat nest (still visible when I got there). He left for a while then returned to find the van and surrounding piles a-flame and we were called. This fire was probably the first for him that was not intentionally set and got away from him but with him, who knows for sure.
Picture of the fire scene with Sq. 340. By the time I got there the guys had knocked the fire down and were mopping up. E-341's hose line can be seen to the right of 340.
Picture of James inside the van with 341's hose line trying to cool a hot spot under the floor.
Picture of an adjoining machine shed who's door was scorched by the fire. Around a year earlier, the opposite side was burned by an out of control fire.
October 1, early morning injury accident, North Brookville Rd.
The pager sounded of at around 3 am. in the morning for a 10-48 car vrs. cow. I geared up in the kitchen (where I could see) and Liz gathered her bags from her car. We took my truck and I called in our response. The accident scene was supposed to be just south of State St. but when we came over the big hill and looked, there were no lights at all. I figured that we were on a goose chase as we continued south on Brookville Rd. Soon we saw a flashlight along side of the road and realized we were first on scene. Pulling my headlights around to the car in the steep ditch I saw a hole in the windshield with the car on the opposite side of a fence. I called on scene, an updated position of the accident and stated that it looked like a rollover. Liz started her evaluation of the driver and gave his code to dispatch. I walked down to the car to investigate closer (I didn't like the hole in the windshield and to verify if there were passengers). I saw the air bags were deployed so I called this out to Liz for her possible evaluation. I also saw a child's chair in the back seat so we again checked with the driver that he was alone. I also saw that the car didn't roll, just nosed through the fence. At this time, law enforcement, EMS, heavy rescue, Sq. 320 and the shift LT. arrived. I updated the deputy stating there was no rollover. He asked if we could drag the dead cow off the road reducing that road hazard. Rob got a chain out of 320 and I pulled the cow into the ditch with my pickup and we were good to go home.
Picture of the car in the ditch after smashing into the cow on the road.
October 22, a goat rope sort of call.
I was ready to start working after dinner when this call came in. Temps were in the 70s with a south wind of 15-20. The call stated grass fire around Carnerieo but gave a crossroad of 2 miles. I figured that it was our frequent flyer junk yard guy in Carnerieo we'd be dealing with. I picked up Jeremy on his road en route to the call. He kept trying to pinpoint the location on his smart phone and was getting a position south of Carnerieo. We checked the Junk yard area---no fire so we went south of town and was joined by Sq. 340---no fire. Jeremy stated the only place left to look was north of Carnerieo so we left 340 to keep checking south while we went north. Then a neighbor called Jeremy and said he was at the fire and it was 2 1/2 miles north of Carnerieo! We arrived and found what was an old bonfire burning in an rock shed with a hole in the roof over the bonfire. Unfortunately, we were behind hills and had no radio comms. and had to call 340 by cell and he relayed to other responders where the fire was. 340 got on scene, and we wetted the area down. Sq. 360 and 320 came but we didn't need them. I took info a,d gave it to the folks on sq. 360 and we left . When Jeremy and I got a few miles to higher ground along the road, I called dispatch and terminated the call. Chief 301 then called and said a Ellsworth deputy was coming to investigate. We turned around and met him at the scene and gave him our part of the info. while Sq. 360 stayed on scene until he was done.
October 26, bales on semi trailer on fire at Brookville Rd. and Lockhard Rd.
Grassland fire index was in the high category with temps in the mid 70s and wind south at 18 gusting to 30. This call came in at around 3ish pm. I had a nasty stomach flue bug the night before and was recovering---about 3/4 strength. I figured that I could drive a truck to the scene and do light duty. I called in my response to dispatch when Doug called by C-phone that he was by Westfall and what to do. He said Dave and Shane were out of town at Brookville so no one to roll Brookville's trucks. I told him to go to Glendale and take/ride with their responding trucks. On my way to Brookville, I heard Jed call in that Bavaria's tanker wouldn't start so I called him to come to Brookville and take the tanker there. We got to the station at the same time and responded with E-341 and T-342. We got on scene and found that the burning bales were pushed off the trailer with Sq. 350/E-321 working to put out the trailer tires and trailer beams. Also the bales were burning on a cut soybean field and there were many spot fires downwind of the bales in the stubble. I also found to some extent, disorganization within the group of firefighters there with no one in charge at least I didn't hear that on the radio. One of our older fire men drove up and he and one of the on scene fire man asked if I would be incident command. So I was anointed. My first job was to get Sd. 350 & 360 to knock out the stubble hot spots and T-342 to refill E-321. Other firemen arrived and I sent them to get tankers (water supply) from Glendale and hopefully jump Bavaria's tanker. This all happened well and I had water on the way. The owner of the hay bales brought his tractor and disc and disced the bean stubble down wind of the bales. He then began to spread the burning bales over the disced ground and the bales finally burned down to where we could wet down the embers in the burned area. We then topped off E-321 & E-341's water tanks and I released everybody and terminated the incident with Dispatch.
Picture I took as I got on scene. The bales had already been pushed into the ditch soybean stubble.
Squad 350 is hard to see through all the smoke as they watch for burning embers that might fly across the disced part of the field and start another spot fire. We are about to begin shoving the burning bales around so they can burn out.
November 19, shed fire as well as a grass fire, State St. and Brookville Rd.
Grassland fire danger index was in the moderate category with temps in the mid 40s and winds light and variable but mostly out of the southeast. I was committed to an activity in Salina (98.5 committed) so couldn't respond and only could listen intermittently on the radio. Jeremy responded and gave me some info on what happened. Our neighbor was burning some trash then left. Some how the fire spread to the machine shed and contents, mostly contents. Our neighbors were able to drag some of the vehicles clear of the fire but 2 or 3 were lost in the fire. Then a grass fire was found down wind of the shed fire which may have started from embers. Luckily, our trucks knocked this fire down as it was in a large pasture with very tall dead grass in it. Thank God for minimal wind today. Still it was hard for me to listen to this fire call and not able to respond.
Picture of the fire that was outside of the lean-to machine shed. On the right side of the picture was a burning car, I think. Jeremy's picture.
Jeremy's picture inside the lean-to of a tractor burning. Other equipment was dragged out before catching on fire.
Jeremy's picture of firefighter beginning an attack on the burning tractor.
November 29, One grass fire call on I-70, one another grass fire in Lincoln Co. off of I-70.
Grassland fire index today was in the very high category with winds northwest ave. 25 mph and temps in the upper 40s. The first call came in in the morning while Jeremy and I was far from home feeding cattle. By the time we got home to respond, the Hedville folks said they could handle the fire on north side of the highway. Later, as we prepared to work a small group of cattle, a neighbor called stating there was a grass fire burning off of I-70 1.5 miles north of my house. As we drove out the driveway another neighbor called saying she could see much smoke and flames. If the fire was south of '70 there would be houses and cattle in line. If it was on the north side there would be no appreciable threats. We checked this out and found the fire was on the north side of the highway so we drove around there. This was in Lincoln Co. and we joined their first units with Jeremy riding on the first fire truck. I advised chief 301 what was going on and stayed by a breach in the fence where fire trucks could get at the fire direct. Due to the fire back burning against the wind, the first two Lincoln trucks achieved a good knockdown then it was a mop up job from there. I picked up Jeremy and we went home to our cattle work. He had his Go-Pro camera on and if there is any good still pictures to be had, I will post them.
December 4, trailer house fire at Sundowner west.
The sun had set and I was sawing firewood over in Saline county when this call came in on my cell phone. At first I thought it was the Sunday evening test, but I read the text and realized this was a real call. I drove home taking some time to drive the 5 miles and then headed for the scene. When I got on scene, the fire was knocked out by the Hedville guys. I was assigned to pack up and help relieve the guys inside doing over haul. This my air pack partner and I did. We then left the house and retanked our packs and was released by command. This was one time where we saved some rooms in a trailer fire mostly because the house was 200 yards from the Hedville station. If you keep your doors closed in a house and there is a fire, the heat will not spread as much and you can save contents.
December 15, porch fire, Railroad street, Hedville.
It was around 11 pm. at night when this call came in. When I heard the call, I said two structure fires in a week!?? One of our firefighters living in Hedville saw the fire and called it in, then dumped two fire extinguishers on the fire holding it some. Our Hedville station guys were only 2.5 miles away and got on scene quickly. They knocked down the fire as it was getting into the crawl space above the porch. When I got there the guys were overhauling the porch and checking for fire spread into the rest of the house. We pried open a door (the owner wasn't there) and continued to look for hot spots with the infa- red camera. I then opened several upstairs windows and then the ventilation fan was started to clear residual smoke in the house. After that, we stacked hoses and I left for home. This fire fight was done with temps around 14 degrees. The fire started I think by spilled ashes from an ash can which involved the mostly enclosed porch. If Hedville trucks had been 2 or 3 minutes later, the fire would have spread through the attic crawl space and we'd lost the entire house.
Dec. 28, mutual aid to district 7, grass fire northwest of the 143 and I-135.
Grassland fire index was in the moderate area with temps in the upper 40s and winds southwest around 10. I was in Salina when this call came in. I drove to the fire, geared up and waited for our trucks to arrive. Dave showed up too as he was in Salina. I gave him my fire coat and gloves. I rode T-342 and we were assigned to put out a tree pile which we did. We refilled with water and did a perimeter check then went home. The fire probably started in the same old way---the farmer was burning a tree pile and the fire got away from him.