A field fire south of the golf course in Sidney on Sunday was finally contained after it scorched nearly 350 acres.
Dustin Sheldon, the assistant fire chief in Sidney, says firefighters in all but one town in Fremont County and some units from neighboring Page County battled the fire — and local farmers cut fire breaks.
“We probably had 10 to 12 discs out in the fields, trying flank the fire,” he says.
The initial report about the fire was made to the Riverton Fire Department at about 2:40 p.m. Sunday and it took nearly four hours to contain it. “The winds were terrible,” Sheldon says. “I think we were at 30-35 mile an hour sustained winds during the entire active fire scene.”
The fire burned a few acres of corn that hadn’t been harvested and spread into a wooded area.
“Always creates a problem when you get timber to burn and it’s hard to put those out without a dozer or a big tree where you can cut everything down…We weren’t able to do that,” he says. “Our dozer out there was pretty busy doing what he was doing and we did get all the ground disced around those wooded fence lines and things like that.”
Investigators believe the fire started in a road ditch and was sparked by a short in a light pole.
“We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for people not to flick a cigarette out the window or burn your trash or anything like that because it’s dangerous out,” Sheldon says. “…Until we get some significant moisture, it’s going to be that way.”
The National Weather Service shows the fire threat for cropland in the entire state is at moderate, high or great risk. Pastures and grassy areas in the northwest corner of Iowa are rated at high risk of fire, with several other areas of the state at moderate risk.
(By Ethan Hewitt, KMA, Shenandoah)