Rain has been falling across much of the state today, a blessing after a series of wildfires sprung up Wednesday. One of the largest, sparked by a resident who lost control of a trash fire, charred 320 acres of farmland in Warren County, south of Des Moines.
The smoke slowed traffic on Interstate 35. The cause of a massive grass fire last night in western Iowa is unknown.
Crews responded to another fire just after 5:30 p.m. in rural Shelby County and Irwin Fire Chief Lynn Gaskill says he knew immediately it would be a struggle. “With the wind conditions…and the size of the fire, we knew we had our hands full and it was going to take a lot of man power to knock it down,” Gaskill said.
Fire crews from four towns were on scene for over 4 hours and were called back later in the evening for a flare up. No one was injured and no buildings were damaged.
High winds, with gusts over 50 miles an hour, were a huge factor in the fire. Gaskill said his department hadn’t previously experienced those
kind of conditions. “Not during a fire we haven’t, that was pretty strong. You couldn’t hardly stand up,” Gaskill said.
Roads in the area were closed and as a precaution, 14 residents were asked to evacuate to a shelter in Harlan. Gaskill credits farmers for helping bring the blaze under control. “We had four farmers come in with tractors and discs. That was a big asset,” Gaskill said. “I don’t know if we could have gotten it stopped without them.” The fire torched over 300 acres of land.
(Reporting by Joel McCall, KNOD, Harlan)
Photos courtesy of the Irwin Fire Department