Photo courtesy of Bill Bauerle
This aerial view shows the burned area after firefighters got it under control. Enders Lake can be seen to the right and the Enders Co-op elevator in the background. A total of 170 acres burned west of Enders during the fire last week that was started by lightning.
Diane Stamm | Johnson Publications
Flames can be seen when the fire jumped 733 Road near Ron and Connie Dart’s house last week.
Megan Kelley | Johnson Publications
Chad Hendricks dumped a total of four loads over the fire last week when he was called in for aerial support.
Grass fire eats up 170 acres near Enders
A large grass and tree fire near Enders Reservoir called the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD) shortly before noon last Thursday.
A total of 170 acres were burned after firefighters from IVFD, Wauneta, Lamar, Benkelman and Haigler got the fire under control.
EMS was also on scene to make sure the firefighters were safe.
Local pilot Chad Hendricks was also called in to assist from the air.
“We pretty much called him right away,” IVFD Chief Doug Mitchell said.
Hendricks dropped four loads of water on the fire.
“He was a big help,” Mitchell added.
Lightning from a July 13 thunderstorm is believed to be the cause of the fire.
“We’re thinking it started clear at the south end (by Enders Reservoir) and it looks like lightning struck a tree,” IVFD Assistant Chief Brad Wheeler said.
“I think it just smoldered until those conditions got right and fired up from there,” he said.
The area where the fire started had a tree that was burned down the center.
“The trees around it were fine” so that’s why we’re thinking lightning,” Wheeler said. And that area was “pretty well fenced off so there was really no way of getting in.”
Nothing but pasture land and trees were damaged in the fire.
“There were no structures (burned),” Mitchell said. “Just trees and grass.”
The fire eventually crossed 733 Road near Ron and Connie Dart’s house.
“When it went across that road, it was pretty intense because those trees are right there plus those power lines,” Wheeler said.
One of those power lines snapped, causing a power outage in Imperial that afternoon for about an hour.
“It’s the soot that causes (the flames) to arc,” Wheeler added. “There were two huge explosions from it arcing and that’s what caused the power outage. I’ve never seen or heard anything like that before.”
Observers may have witnessed some black smoke at times, which turned out to be a row a cedar trees.
“When (cedar trees) get hot enough they just explode,” Mitchell said.
Joel Grosbach was on his family’s land near Dart’s property when the fire was in its prime.
“I had to move the cows pretty quick,” he said.
The fire never made it on to Grosbach’s land.
Wheeler said a perimeter of sprinklers was set up around Dart’s house as a precaution.
“We also left a couple trucks by their place,” he added.
IVFD was called back to the scene on Friday when some smoldering trees had started fully burning again.