• Last modified 1078 days ago (Oct. 14, 2020)


5 fire departments called to weekend blaze

Staff writer

Mark Slater arrived at a fire Sunday afternoon in southeast Marion County and soon realized the four Florence fire trucks that responded weren’t nearly enough.

“At first it looked pretty small, but we realized really quickly that it was fast,” Slater, Florence’s fire chief, said.

The burning grass was dry and long, and strong winds meant the fire, near Bluestem Rd. and US-50, spread rapidly.

One of the four trucks was a tanker, so Slater had only three to fight the fire.

Burns, Peabody, Marion, Cedar Point, and Cottonwood Falls assisted, with 13 trucks arriving on-scene in addition to Florence’s.

A grass fire typically requires three departments on-scene as a precaution.

Despite having 17 trucks, including four tankers, Slater didn’t see it as a large number considering the circumstances.

Slater saw a few old buildings nearby, including a schoolhouse and a barn, which made him more eager to quickly get the fire under control.

“You want to protect the structures if you can,” he said. “Grass will grow back. A structure won’t.”

The fire may have burned 100 to 200 acres, but Slater was not certain of the size.

“It might not have been that much because it was widespread,” he said. “How do you figure that, unless you want to drive the circumference of it?”

Having such dry weather highlights the importance of being careful when trying to control-burn, Slater.

It also made it difficult to figure out what caused Sunday’s fire, which he was not sure of.

“I really don’t know how to answer that, as dry as it is,” he said.

It was far from the only fire of the week, though, as 10 more fires were reported around Marion County departments between Oct. 6 and Monday.

That included a fire Oct. 6 in a field near 150th and Limestone Rds., a combine fire near 360th and Mustang Rds., a combine fire Oct. 7 near 150th and Kanza Rds. that was extinguished before firefighters arrived, and an Oct. 7 fire that started after a car accident near 350th Rd. and US-77.

Thursday there was a ditch fire on US-77 near 230th Rd., and a combine that caught fire in a field near 310th and Quail Creek Rds.

The site of Thursday’s combine fire rekindled and started to burn Friday, and there was a combine fire Friday on 190th Rd. between Falcon and Goldenrod Rds. but it was extinguished before firefighters arrived.

Calls Monday included one in the morning near Burns, and Monday evening near 120th and Goldenrod Rds.

Last modified Oct. 14, 2020