Starting a new year.
My sever cleaned the slate and now I've trying to remember the calls since January 1st. Kind of hazy recollections.
January 8, mutual aid for a very large grass fire, west of Marquette.
Grassland fire index was in the "moderate to low high" category with winds southwest around 25 mph and temps in the high 40s. When I fed cattle that Sunday morning, there was still a light snow pack so grass fire was far from my thinking. We had left church and was pulling into a restaurant for our noon meal before going home when Jed called and stated he could see smoke from a seemingly large fire in the Rice, McPherson and Ellsworth counties. I was thinking someone was burning or a tree pile reignited causing what he could see. When we were almost done eating, Doug called from Brookville stating he was watching a large grass fire smoke plume south west of the Bomb range and to be ready. I thought "dude", "there is snow on the ground, can't be a large grass fire." Then as we were going home, the pager tones for mutual aid. Liz and I drove to Brookville where I took T-342. Chase rode with me---this was his second fire. Jeremy called by cell and said he was coming the west highway route and would meet us at the fire. We joined Jeremy at one of many staging areas and a farmer lead us to the fire. The terrain was mountainous with long wet uncrossable draws but THERE WAS NO SNOW COVER HERE! I tried one pass on the fire line but the fire behind us kept jumping a wet draw, undoing all we put out. I pulled off the line (as we were wasting water doing what we were doing) and we tried to find a secure crossing to fight fire behind us. While doing this, I looked up and saw two fire trucks approaching on the other side of the draw. We met at the draw and I pulled into the fire line again as I knew my back side was covered. Jeremy and Chase were now kicking fire butt with their hoses. We got to a large hill ridge (a baby mountain it seemed) clipped hubs and went to 4x4 low range and started climbing. Nearing the top of the ridge became much steeper than it looked at the bottom. I was able to hold the brakes while Jeremy jumped off to look for a better route. He found a small cut off to the right that he thought we could make it. I eased over with Jeremy and Chase almost standing on top of each other on the high side, ready to bail off if the truck turned over. We finally made it to the top. We unrolled the booster line and took care of fire on the side hill then went on down the fire line. About 500 yards of fire line was still burning ahead when we ran out of water. I pulled out of the smoke and fire and saw a parade of fire trucks coming. In no time they knocked out the remaining fire and the south side flank of the fire was out. We refilled at a staging area, joined up with the rest of district 3 trucks and was released to go home. This large fire burned 3-5 miles long and 1 mile wide and it was stated that more than 25 fire trucks were involved in the fight. Our truck made a little public splash. Channel 10 Wichita filmed us pulling away from our water refill and played it on the 10 pm. news.
Jeremy took this picture taking the highway route to the fire. The fire is still around 15 miles away.
We had just pulled up to the fire line, smoke reduced visibility.
Picture of me pulling out of the fire line due to fire spreading back in from across a wet draw behind us.
Another picture of the fire raging through from back behind us.
Picture of another fire truck and us cleaning up the fire behind us.
Now with the fire covered behind us we start climbing the hill, putting out the fire as we go. The hill doesn't look too steep yet.
We are beginning to climb the steepening hill where I almost got into trouble with the truck at the top.
We had just run out of water with 500 yards of fire to go when I pulled off the fire line I saw 5 fire trucks coming. These two trucks wrapped up the fire in short time. The white object in upper left of the picture is the Marquette elevator.
One of three stadging areas where a truck could refil with water. This gives one an idea on how many trucks it took to take control of the fire.
January 21, grass fire I-70, mile marker 236.
Grassland fire index was in the moderate category with temps in the low 40s and winds calm. I was coming home a mile away when this call came in, marker 236 west bound side. I switched trucks and drove up to our exit 233 and went east. At this time I heard Sq. 340, 350 and 320 as well as Chief 301 responding. Passing 236 area I could see no fire or smoke. This, I reported to dispatch who said some calls were at the 235. I continued east for exit 238 where I could safely go back west bound. I met 350, then 340 and Chief 301 west bound. Sq. 350 then called on scene----WHAT! What did he see that I missed. It was a small smokeless grass fire around the 235 marker. By the time I circled around to their position, 350 and 340 had the fire out. 350's driver asked if I could be incident command and clear the incident as well as writing up the paper work. This I did and we all went home. A 10x35 yard strip of grass burned. We did find a cigarette butt at the centroid of the black but it was not definite that that was the starting of this fire.
January 25, grass fires at House Rd. and Humbarger Rd. probable arson.
It was just after 2 pm. when this call came in. Grassland fire was in the "high" category today with Temps. in the upper 30s and winds howling out of the north at 30 mph. I headed toward Brookville station as Dave and Doug responded with Sq. 340. Passing over a hill while in route I saw lots of spread out smoke from the fire area. I thought this was unusual as the call only mentioned one fire. I then heard Gary in Sq. 350 call 2 or 3 separate fires as he got on scene. After that, I listened to Chief 301 call for extra help from districts 7 and 6, as well as Lincoln and Ottawa counties. It soon was apparent that Ottawa county had it's own fire just to the north of ours. I took T-342 to the fire and after talking to Jeremy on the phone, I knew he was coming too. I took the west fire line and mopped up after two squads working that fire line. Jeremy and Jordan arrived, climbed on and we went on the attack. Soon, after slogging through mud, we knocked out the west fire line of the first fire. We then went to the second fire and started working the west fire line of it. We ran out of water at this time and went back to the road and refilled off a tanker. We teamed up with Sq. 360 and knocked out the rest of the fire on the west flank. We started to work a tree area below a pond where many logs were on fire. We then refiled with water and went back to the trees where I got 342 high centered and we had to be pulled out by a tractor. We cleaned up some smoldering brush and refilled back on the road. I then took Jeremy and Jordan to their trucks, stopping to wet down a tree pile on the way. We were then released by command to go back to the station. Around 120 acres burned from the first two fires. The saving thing today was although the fires burnt one mile in length, it was cool enough so they didn't jump the road and burn on.
Picture of Sq.360 on the last active fire line. We have just refilled with water and passed them as they were lower on water.
Going on the attack. This is the last active fire to put out.
Wrapping the fire line up. Ahead in the trees is where I got high-centered and stuck. We were working hot spots in the trees so no relights would happen later.
March 5, controlled burn keeps making calls.
Emergency management let some people burn last Thursday morning, then the wind came up. The burners were able to keep control of their burn and completed it. The problem, as is usually the case, is dead trees burning/smoldering near the unburned perimeter. We've had multiple call back to put out small grass fires and burning logs. As long as the wind howls as it has been doing, (red flag conditions)we will probably have more calls there since it is next to I-70. Tomorrow, will be the worst day fire weather wise then things ramp down some. We are really getting dry. PS. Around 7 pm. I herd district 5 and 7 taking one squad each to Hutchinson to help with a large out of control fire just northwest of that town.
March 6, fire armegeddon, the devil's on day.
Monday was another Red Flag day, the first real bad one with shifting winds. Red Flag value starts with 50. Monday's value was 146. Temps were in the high 70s with winds SW at 30-40, shifting to the NW with gusts to 60! I was coming home from Salina when Kody called stating there were many large fires in western Kansas including one at Wilson Lake area. I got home around 3ish and followed the smoke trails on NWS radar as well as the beginning of a severe storm outbreak in the mid-west. I noted that the smoke at Wilson had turned southeast as the winds shifted out of the northwest. Soon the wind turned out of the NW at home and began howling. Around this time our neighbor called and said our rental pasture west, located along I-70, was on fire. I jumped into my pickup and drove to the pasture. The fire burned from the cell tower towards I-70 in luckily short grass. I thought all Lincoln county trucks were up at Wilson and I had to call for help when Westfall trucks began arriving. They, with trucks from Beverly quickly knocked down the fire. Jeremy arrived and we carried a small tree pile farther into the burned off due to sustained NW winds steady at 45 mph. Finally things looked good and we all left to go home. I hadn't made it home when we were paged for mutual aid at mile marker 232. This was strange as I saw no fire in that area. I questioned dispatch about the location and she amended the call to the Wilson fire. Chief 301 came on the air and directed only 2 squads were to go to Wilson, while we kept most of our assets in county for any further calls. So, Jeremy and I led Sq. 340 and 350 west bound on I-70 the 30 miles to Wilson. Around 1 mile west of the Sylvan Grove exit, we ran into fire in the medium, both ditches and grass on both sides of I-70. I could not find any command people on the radio so we decided to try to knock out the fire that was moving towards a farmstead on the south side of the highway. Trying to keep track of both squads in a roaring fire, smoke and approaching darkness was stressful at times. I ran out of battery on both Jeremy's and my portable radios before the fight was over. We burst through the flames on the highway to get up wind, then I cut the fence on both sides of the highway for clear access to the fire. From the highway, 350 went north (to keep fire from coming in behind 340) and 340 south to knock down fire heading towards the farmstead to the east. At one point, 340 was surrounded by fire and had to bale out but made it. Then a Kanopolis truck came and joined up with 340 and together they managed to knock out the fire before reaching the farmstead. I had the trucks knock out a relight in the north ditch and after that the fire was stopped by a wheat field to the north of the highway. I bunched the two trucks together and they started to take the north fire line to the northwest while I hunted a tanker to refill water. I directed 350 to refill back at I-70 while 340 refilled farther north. I drove to the Wilson exit in search of a command node but only tankers were there. Back at our original area, I ran into the Ellsworth chief who said go north and work the north fire line, which we were already doing. I drove around on dirt roads and caught up with 340 and 350 as well as a bunch of other fire trucks. There was lots of fire to the northwest coming directly at us through undriveable terrain. There was also a sub-command person there and we all gathered to plan stradegy. We were ordered to stop the fire where we had gathered. (between the burned off area to the west, and a wheat field to our northeast, an area about 400 yards wide) We waited as the fire roared towards us but the draw just in front was springy and wet and the fire was stopped before it reached us. All the other trucks were one mile north, protecting a farmstead there. These trucks returned having success stopping the fire there. After consultation, we were released to go home and I drove into the yard at 10 pm. I was talking to a fire fighter from Lucas during the last command meeting and he said the fire burned a path between 10 to 15 miles long. It's been a while since I was in such terrible fire conditions fighting fire.
Picture of where the fire burned in our pasture from the cell tower.
Picture taken of the smoke on I-70 as we closed in. Looking west. Even though the sun was still up, the darkness was surreal.
Closing in shows fire all across the I-70 highway and extending out both north and south.
Driving past the fire on I-70 so we could attack from the backside.
Beginning the fire attack in the ditch. The wind was so strong, it was hard to shoot a straight hose stream onto the fire.
Picture of the north flank fire to burn out of the canyon ahead of us. The fire hit a wet draw about 100 yards below the old barn. this was our last action with this fire before going home.
My picture of the fire burning towards us as we waited. There was so much smoke at times that you couldn't see flames, just a glow.
An addition to March 6.
The news has stated that the fires last Monday burned more acres than the record fire that burned southern Kansas last year. Five people died in the fires from Texas to Kansas. The thing about Monday, was most all the acres were burned in one day not over a several day period last year showing how insane the wind was that day. It was a wonder that not more houses were lost. It was like us at Wilson/Sylvan grove exit area making a stand to protect a threatened farmstead we came across. It was close, but we saved the farmstead.
March 14, grass fire north of mile marker 244, I-70. Controlled burn, out of control.
Grassland fire index was in the low "high" category with east winds at 10 and temps around 41. I was at a Drs. appointment and could not respond when this call came in around 2:45 pm. Jeremy did respond after he got a sub for his bus route. It took around 1.5/2 hours to get a handle on the fire.
March 15, fire off of I-70, mile marker 243.5 west bound.
Grassland fire index was in the "high" category again with temps around 50 and winds, southerly 15 gusting to 25 mph. I was caught traveling in Lincoln county when the fire was paged out. The location of the fire was dicey because a quarter/half a mile different, and the fire would burn unrestricted north with the south wind or a cultivated field would stop the fire's advance. After some of our trucks arrived, it was clear that some of the fire was burning north. Quick hits by Sq. 350 and 340 knocked out most of the advancing fire. Other trucks kept the fire knocked down, but it was close, only feet separated a large fire from quick control. I got home and called Chief 301 what he needed and he wanted me to bring T-351 from Glendale to refill the four squads. I had never driven this truck since it was reconfigured. So I did a on the job learning course and made it to the scene where I refilled squads until I ran out of water. Command said that 350 and I could return to Glendale to refill 351. I then met Squad 340 and returned their fence wire cutter I used at the Wilson fire a week before and forgot I had it. After that we all went home. Around 3-4 acres burned.
April 3, grass fire south of Stimmel/Powers Rd.
Grass land fire index was in the moderate category. Wind was northwest at 18 to 24 mph with temps in the upper 60s. The ground was drying out from several inches of rain when this call came in. I was still under weight lift restriction so didn't respond after hearing enough trucks had responded. (I could have driven a truck but nothing extra which would have been hard to do). The guys & gals got the fire under control quickly and all left the scene soon after. The fire started in the same old way---a brush pile was burned while things were wet from rain, then the wind carried embers from the pile to unburned but now dryer grass and it took off.
April 6, grass fire west of the Smoky Hill Weapons range.
Grass land fire index was in the high category with temps in the 60s and northwest wind topping out at 24 mph. Due to new reprogramed pagers, at first, I thought this call was not our call. Then, when I realized it was our call, I responded to Brookville and took T-342. I still thought the recent rains would slow the burning but it really didn't. This fire was reported to be started by a decoy flare dropped by a C-130 who was practicing manoeuvers on and off the range. When Tate and I arrived, Chief 301 was stuck and the fire was burning towards the country road. Tate and I tried to keep the fire knocked down so it wouldn't jump this road as well as not getting stuck. I think all district 3's trucks got stuck but ours. Chief Abker kept calling for more districts to help as I couldn't cross the draw to pull him out. I know, it's real frustrating to try to command a fire when you can't move or see what's going on. He was REALLY perturbed and this colored his calling for maybe more help than we needed. But---there were huge rocky hills involved and EVERY draw was so wet you couldn't cross it. Fire kept burning out of the wet draws and undoing all we put out. Finally enough trucks arrived so to cover each draw and fire control was achieved. Around 2X1 miles of pasture were burned. A big help were the two fire trucks located on the road at the right time. They knocked out the fire in a narrow space where it should have jumped the road. If it did, we would have chased the fire another mile before control was achieved. Fire season is not over by a long ways yet.
This was what the fire scene was like. Huge rocky hills you couldn't drive on and wet draws you couldn't cross. When we had enough fire trucks available, (our trucks pulled out of the mud and refilled with water) we waited for the fire to burn away from untrafficable terrain then knocked it out on our terms.
Sq. 340 from Brookville is about to go on the fire attack.
Waiting for the fire to burn away from hills and dales, Sq. 340 begins the attack on more our terms.
We in 342 are pulling in behind Sq. 340 to back them in their fight. There are other trucks "up fire" behind us so we all piled on the fire and quickly got control.
April 11, a call you don't want to hear.
Tuesday was the first day that had light winds forecasted in forever. Everybody seemed to want to burn this day so we mentally prepared ourselves to respond to many loss of control calls. I was talking to Jeremy in the afternoon and he said Jed and Jordan were helping a farmer crew burn just north of Brookville. All was quiet so I moved my tractor to some Saline county farm ground with my mother following to bring me home to get my pickup. Arriving at my destination, the pager tones for an injury accident car verses ATV north of Brookville. It was hard to get one's 94 year old mother to drive home as fast as I would have liked. Next the pager tones for an out-of-control fire in the same area as the accident. I got on scene expecting to find dead friends and found Jed was talking to the ambulance folks as we boarded him and loaded him into the ambulance. Here's what happened. The "boys" were helping burn the last bit of pasture next to Brookville Rd. when the wind shifted and swirled, blowing smoke across the road. A car hit both ATV's then nosed into the west ditch. The fire jumped the road as the rescue process went on. About 5 acres burned before district 3 got it under control again. Somehow, the ATV drivers were not seriously hurt while somehow the car driver sustained a very serious head injury. I followed the ambulance carrying Jed into Salina and stayed with Jed's mom while Drs. worked on Jed. All x-rays were negative and he went home that evening. Whew.
April 18, early morning vehicle fire run.
Around 4 am. in the morning, the pager tones for this fire. A van on fire 100 feet from a house on north Link Rd. I got up and donned my gear and took off. I could hear Engines 341 & 321 respond as well as T-342 so I headed for the scene direct, or so I thought. Like a dum-dum I forgot that a cross road was closed until after committing to that route. So I had to back-track a distance before getting on scene. By then the fire was under control and command released me to go home.
A still capture off of Jeremy's video of the van smoldering after being fully involved.
April 24, grass fire at Armstrong and Eff Creek roads.
Grass land fire index was in the high to very high category with temps in the 70s and winds south topping out at 30 mph. Jeremy and I were working cattle when his phone rang---our neighbor saw and smelled smoke to our east. Jeremy took off and called back that our neighbors pasture was on fire. I had our worker friend drop me off at home and got my pickup and called in my response. I got on scene and Jeremy described what was going on. Luckily the pasture was heavily grazed so was really green but was still carrying the fire along on the 30 mph winds. Also there was a brome patch in front of the head fire and a creek/farm ground to the east. I declared incident command and checked out the fire myself while waiting for our fire trucks to arrive. Squads 340, 330, 350, 320 and T-351 arrived and achieved fire knockdown very fast. Chief 301 arrived in his command vehicle as well as a Sherriff deputy. The deputy and I drove to the road where the fire originated. The deputy said look here----there was a discarded cigarette butt---right in the middle of where the fire started. I called fire under control then exchanged information with chief 301 for his records. Due to us leaving cattle in small pens, I transferred command to chief 301 and Jeremy and I went back to working cattle. Chief 701 from that district called his district assistance right after I took command but I knew we could handle this fire, about the only place in that area of road where it would be easy to stop the fire. About any other places that a fire could start, we would have needed his assistance so at the end of the fire I heartily thanked him for being on the ready.
Our friend, who was helping us work cattle, took this picture of Jeremy scouting the fire. I was not on scene yet.
The green grass makes for a lot of extra smoke. Jeremy's trailer is hardly visible.
Picture of the east fire line. Not much flame to this due to shorter grass and green underneath.
May 11, grass fire at old 40 highway and 29 road.
This call came in in the late evening with temps in the low 70s and winds south gusting to 25 mph. Of course, the call came in just as I was ready to step into the bath tub. I redressed and called in my response, (the scene was straight south from the west corner of my farm. Squad 340 arrived and called all the rest of us off, a small fire. The grass is becoming very green so easy to control now.
May 26, barn/storage shed fire, Rolling Hills Ranch.
Sorry about no posts. I got hacked. My web master redid security but I waited for Liz to get back from vacation before trying to post. So, memory is a little fuzzy. It was around 4ish when this call came in. I was close to the house so I slipped on my gear and took off. The call was a shed on fire. OK. To me a shed is a 10 x 12' building, not so big. Chief 306 called smoke visible at a distance then on scene with shed fully involved. I got to the hill which obstructed my view east, then saw the plume of smoke. This was not a small shed. There was a huge column of BLACK smoke coming from the area. At two miles out I turned on my dash cam to record. E-341 and E-321 were on scene as I drove up and circled so to park with my camera pointing past 341 at the fire. I helped drag the 1-3/4" line out while some of our firefighters donned air packs. I then dragged hose lines for them as they attacked the 40x50' building. This was a very hot fire to fight so fresh fire fighters traded out with us and I became engineer for E-341. We were just beginning to achieve fire suppression when both engines ran out of water and our tankers who were just arriving, hadn't hooked up yet. Also our semi tanker arrived, assuring a constant water supply. Chief 306 also called district 7 for mutual aid and they began arriving with their engine and other trucks. Jeremy arrived and I snapped pictures of him axing a door open. Soon, the fire was knocked down/burned out. Rolling hills employees took a back hoe and a high loader and cleared out the tin ect. so we could cool the embers off. Command wanted me to refill T-342 and bring it back, which I did. I was then released to go home, tired and arm weary. Jeremy posted my dash cam video on u-tube. Go to u-tube, type in Rolling Hills fire, dad's video. Pretty spectacular viewing. Jeremy also has his head mounted cam video posted. I never heard what started the fire. There were several 30 gallon barrels full of hydraulic oil stored in the barn which accounted for the rapid spread of the fire supplying heat and black smoke. Also there was several pieces of equipment parked in this barn.
Jeremy, (in yellow gear), receives an ax to open white door for better access to the smoldering remains.
Jeremy is using ax to remove tin siding as other firefighters cool embers.
June 10, large machine shed fire.
I was working fairly close to the house when this call came in in the early morning. Again, it was paged as a shed fire by dispatch. To me that indicates a 10x12 shed that houses a lawn mower or ATV. In reality, the "shed" was a 40x80 pole building full of farm equipment. I was heading for the scene when I heard command call for mutual aid for tanker support. So I backtracked to Brookville to get Tanker 342. By the time I arrived at the station and pulled 342 out command called fire under control and turned myself and district 7 back. The story of this fire was the owner went into his building and found a tractor on fire. He backed out, closed the door and called for help. The fire eventually spread to the rafters and another tractor before our first units on scene attacked while the owner dragged out nearby equipment. Fire control was achieved and many other parked equipment was saved. I heard that insurance totaled the building as well as the principal tractor for a total of 100,00 dollars loss.
July 4, two vehicle wreck Shilling and Brownhill Rds.
It was late afternoon when this call came in. I had just entered my house for a drink when the pager toned. Text was two trucks and 3 people involved with one entrapment. I decided to respond due to maybe helping with the entrapment, or setting up a LZ for a helicopter. When I got on scene, a little ways off the intersection, the entrapped person freed himself and there were no critical injuries to warrant a helicopter. What happened was the two trucks met at the crest of a hill too far in the middle of the road. The smaller of the two trucks bounced off and into the ditch. He then slid back onto the road going down hill sideways and rolled to my estimation of the track, three times coming to rest upside down. I think all people in the wreck had injuries basically broken bones. As soon as all were placed in EMS I went home. The day before, I responded to a grass fire call on I-70 that turned out to be a farmer burning a stubble field with the wind carrying smoke across I-70. Once we sorted out that the farmer had a legal burn, we were good to go home.
Picture of the larger truck involved, (behind the deputy) and the smaller truck that rolled upside down (background down hill). Could have been more serious injuries than what did happen.
Sept 1, basement fire in house on west Stimmel Rd.
I was driving to the field between 9 and 10 am. when this call came in. I turned around and went home to get a couple items and called in my response. Jeremy was in Salina where he responded due to the proximity of the house in question to Salina. He got on scene right after the sheriff deputy then chief 301 arrived with E-321. Chief 301 had Jeremy pack up and sent him on a recon of the basement where he found little fire but lots of heat and smoke. Chief gave him a hand pump and he knocked out the small fire in the utility room. Meanwhile I headed to Brookville until I heard trucks roll from there. I turned around and headed for the scene arriving just ahead of Brookville's E-341. Chance arrived at the same time and we packed up and went down with Jeremy to start ventilation and find a shut off for a water line that was flooding the basement floor. We removed some smoldering material that was around the washing machine, opened the windows to vent the smoke and that was that. I sure expected to find a full blown house fire when I arrived but Jeremy put a quick end to that possibility. A week ago we had a fire at 2:30 in the morning. I was not feeling the greatest so did not respond. It turned out to be maybe an arson fire that was more involved than the page indicated. After hearing that, I was P-oed that I didn't respond. There has been a lot of automatic fire alarms and medic calls that Liz or I didn't respond too as they were too far away or no fire reported.
September 13, multiple grass fires along old highway 40 at 29th road.
Grassland fire index was in the high to very high category with temps in the mid 90s and winds south gusting to 20. Dew points were also in the 40s. I had just come into the yard with a load of bales around 4:30ish when this call came in stating a fire in the ditch. Well, that didn't sound too bad. I gathered my gear and headed south. I heard squad 340 respond from Brookville so I figured they would take the fire and I would incident command then go home. After driving to a higher point I could see a lot of smoke coming from the area around 7 miles to my south. This I reported on the radio to dispatch and responding district 3 units. I could see also, that the smoke plume was wide indicating multiple fires. Moments later Shane in Sq. 340 called on scene 4 separate fires burning off of highway 40. He requested mutual aid from Kanopolis district to dispatch. At this time I got on scene still thinking to take IC but Shane urged me to go to Brookville and bring our best grass fighting truck. I headed for Brookville and stated to responding units that one house was threatened on the west side of 29th road and a hay pile on the east side of 29th. I had just about reached Brookville when Joe came by with 342. Knowing the need for water supply, I responded with E-341 arriving just as sq. 340 ran out of water. I quickly set up and chief 306 arrived and helped with the refill of a continuous line of empty trucks. 342 was one of these trucks with Jeremy the only hoseman. I turned refill over to 306 and spent the rest of the afternoon on 342 with Jeremy. Chief 301 arrived in his command vehicle and called for mutual aid from Saline district 7. The terrain was steep and rocky. The grass burned fast like it was early March. A head fire burned up a hill that only 342 and a couple of Kanopolis 6xbys could clime. We knocked out this raging fire while other trucks mopped up fire in the lower elevations. Around sunset we gained fire control. I went back to refilling empty trucks then went to Brookville to refill 341. I came back and filled a truck that held 1600 gallons. After that I went back to Brookville, refilled and parked my truck in the station. I was really surprised how well the grass burned. Someone saw a tractor driving slowly down the highway, stating it was the one that started the fires. I'd say around 40 acres burned. We had one fire truck damaged by a rock or something. The house and hay bales were saved.
A still shot off of Jeremy's helmet video. He's working the fire burning towards the house behind the trees on the upper right of the picture.
Jeremy's picture of how well the grass was burning. It's dry.
Now Jeremy is working the fire line on the east side of 29th road.
We're working higher up on a hill. Notice how the fire burns right through green weeds. (Sunflowers).
My picture of the Sept 13, burn over the bale pile we helped save.
My picture of the steep hilly terrain the 13th fire burned on.
September 15, a fire that keeps on giving.
On the 14th we were paged by a nebulous call to highway 40, a grass fire. The description by dispatch made it sound like our old fire had restarted again. I headed south to the old fire scene when Sq. 340 headed EAST of Brookville. They found a smoldering bale that was doused by the farmer who was baling. They turned everybody back who was responding. I quizzed them on the radio to be sure they were in the right place. They were. Then came today. Around 3ish we were page back to our fire scene of two days ago. Grassland fire index was in the very high category with temp. of 90 and southeast winds gusting to 30 mph. I headed to the scene as well as Sq. 340 immediately out of Brookville. I got on scene right behind Sq. 340. The fire rekindled on the east edge of the original fire. There was so much smoke,(green grass even when it is cured will emit more smoke than 100% cured grass) that it looked like the fire had already burned out of the draw and up the hill. Chief 701 called me and asked if district 7 could help, he was ready. I said yes, they were helping us with the original fire and knew the ins and outs. I called dispatch to call Kanopolis for mutual aid. I wanted to pile on this fire early. The fire was burning in a low draw that had a little greener grass/weeds in it so the fire wasn't traveling as fast as it could. Sq. 340 did a great job of knocking down the fire thus holding it for the fire trucks we all knew was coming. I tried to position arriving trucks so both fire flanks were attended to. Line fences and a steep channel kept trucks separated. Chief 301 arrived with the command vehicle so I transferred command to him and drove Sq. 350 the rest of the fight. We had the fire basically under control when I transferred command. After that we spent 1.5 hours mopping up hot spots. Around 8 acres burned.
Picture of where todays fire burned up the big draw. Once the fire would have made it to the hills beyond, we'd be on a tail chase due to the steep hills and feeder draws. The white truck is the rancher/owner standing by to watch for flare-ups after we were gone
Sept. 27, one vehicle wreck at Brookville and Humbarger roads.
The only reason I went to this wreck was I was close (5 miles) as I was going home from Salina. It was approaching dark when the call came out and didn't sound too bad on the page. I figured I might be first on scene and give information to dispatch. Law enforcement was already there when I got there. Two young girls were driving southbound when the driver reached for something and drove off into a fairly steep ditch, through the fence and traveled approximately 40 yards before stopping in the pasture. Air bags were deployed when they hit a sizeable hedge post in the fence line. A farmer and I went to the car, (it was still running) and shut it off, pulled the keys and un- coupled the battery. I then searched for a gate for the pasture and gave that info to law enforcement and left the scene.
November 20&21 grass fires on I-70.
Grass land fire index was in the very high category both days. The 20th had warm temps. and south winds while today had north winds and colder. The 20th call for mile marker 243. Today there were multiple fires at the 245ish mile marker. I responded to the call on the 20th but Hedville units knocked it out before I got there. Today, I had a medical procedure in the morning and couldn't respond. It sounded that todays fires were knocked out pretty fast too. Thankfully the wind wasn't up yet at 7 am. or a bigger problem could have resulted.
December 6, semi with load of hay on fire, I-70 marker 242.
Grassland fire index was in the very high category today. I had just gotten home from Salina at 4:30 and was getting ready to do a short deer hunt before sunset when this call came in. I geared up then called Jeremy for more info. He had his kids and just flew his drone over the fire scene taking pictures. I called in my response to dispatch and left home. Shane called to tell me to go to Brookville and get 342, our last truck left in Brookville station. When I arrived in Brookville, Jed was just pulling out of the station with 342 so I jumped in with him. Scott, was IC and engineer on 341. He called for district 7 for mutual aid as District 3 was not all on scene yet. Jed and I were directed to fill E-341 then we went back for another load of water. Again we refilled 341. By then most of the fire was knocked out. We refiled and Jed took 342 back to the scene to refill engines. I went on home as I had other commitments this night. It appeared that the fire started in the cab of the semi, then spread to the hay bales in back. We were able to save several bales because a neighbor brought his hay handler and unloaded the unburned bales on the back of the trailer. The cab part burned to the ground. Jeremy got several pictures but I can only download one so may have other pictures later.
Jeremy's picture of what the semi/trailer looked like just after our first trucks got on scene.
Jeremy's picture of the finish of the grass fire surrounding the burning semi. A neighbor brought his loader and had pushed the burning bales off the trailer while we protected his machine with water. The unburned bales are still on the back of the trailer. Later they were taken off and stacked away from the fire.