Winds accelerate Wauneta area brush fire; seven departments battle blaze
By Pat Holder
The Wauneta Breeze
Sirens and smoke were in the air last Thursday morning when a wildfire, caused by a spark from electrical connectors near a shop power line on Bruce Kramer’s property at 720 Rd. and 345 Ave., broke out. It quickly grew to a blaze that burned approximately 800 acres of farmland.
The fire, fueled by dry corn stalks, was called in to Chase County Dispatch at approximately 11:20 a.m. by Lester Pursley who spotted the smoke.
Sustained winds of 25 mph with gusts to 36 mph along with dry conditions warranted the Wauneta Volunteer Fire Department calling in area fire departments from Stratton, Trenton, Benkelman, Culbertson, Imperial and Palisade for mutual aid.
Flames jumped from Kramer’s to Rodger Crow’s property and continued south toward 717 Rd. and 346 Ave. where the blaze was brought under control.
The fire caused no injuries and no harm to structures although it came within yards of buildings on Crow’s property and burned fields belonging to Gary Ham, Don Harrison, Bill Dicke, Eddie Nichols and Kelly Nichols. The work of firefighters and the direction of the wind away from buildings kept the fire from causing serious damage.
Wauneta Volunteer Fire Chief Shannon O’Neil said the fire lasted about three-and-a-half hours. O’Neil was able to start sending crew workers home about 3 p.m. that afternoon. He said he was thankful for the mutual aid, especially since the wind was blowing that hard.
IVFD sent 12 firefighters
A dozen firefighters, two quick attack units, two water tankers and the command car were sent to assist at the fire, south of Wauneta, said Imperial Fire Chief Nick Schultz.
Several private entities also sent water tankers to aid at the scene, he noted.