As many as 20 wildfires were reported across three northwest Iowa counties on Tuesday and more fires may flare up today before the likely rains arrive tonight.
The fires blazed across parts of Woodbury, Sioux and Plymouth counties. One fire near Sioux City destroyed a house, which also contained an exotic bird store. No one was reported hurt.
Forecasters say a cold front should arrive later today with the promise of showers and Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says those rains are definitely needed.
“It’s awful windy and awful dry to be burning if you don’t have something to surround or protect it,” Chief Schipper says. “Hopefully, we’ll get some rain tonight, otherwise, we’re going to have to go back to no burning because it’s just too dry and windy right now.”
Schipper says field fires can spread quickly even on a calm day. “We can even just have a little bit of wind but that fire creates its own wind and people don’t understand that,” Schipper says. “Even if it’s blowing 15 miles an hour out here, it might be 50 miles an hour down in the fire. That’s what throws people, I think. They don’t realize how fast that goes.”
Plymouth County firefighters tackled four field fires on Tuesday, while there were at least a half-dozen in Woodbury County, near towns including Cushing, Hornick, Sioux City and Lawton.
Sioux County authorities reported nine grass fires on Tuesday, near Hospers, Hull, Alton and Maurice. In many instances, local farmers assisted firefighters’ efforts by tilling the burning fields.
(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars/ House fire photos by George Lindblade)