A total of nine area fire departments were called out to a grass fire northwest of Stratton on Saturday. Many were called back on Sunday to assist with hot spots and to a separate fire on Monday. (Courtesy photo by Kerry Miller)

High winds fuel Hitchcock County grass fire

    Local firemen have been more than busy this week battling fires.  
    “Rough terrain and wind were big factors on the weekend fires,” said Stratton Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) Chief Joe Hubl. “We fought in  many canyons with big, steep walls.”
     The Wauneta Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) and Palisade Fire and Rescue (PFR) responded to calls for mutual aid from the SVFD Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
    The Imperial Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD) was also called for mutual aid on Saturday, taking five trucks and 11 firefighters.
    At approximately 2 p.m. Saturday the SVFD was called out to a grass fire, approximately 10 miles northwest of Stratton in Hitchcock County, just across the road from the Wauneta Fire District. WVFD Chief Beau Yoder said the hub of the fire was located near the intersection of 719 Road and 348 Avenue.
    According to Hubl, the fire started when a local rancher was out checking pasture fence and the exhaust from his pickup, or another vehicle malfunction, ignited the dry grass.
    Hubl said strong southwest winds quickly pushed the fire into deep canyons. Eight other fire departments were called for mutual aid.
     Fire departments responding to SVFD’s call for mutual aid included Wauneta, Imperial, Palisade, Red Willow Western from McCook, Hayes Center, Trenton and Benkelman.
    Hubl said mutual aid fire fighters were sent home after the fire was mostly contained at approximately 7 p.m. SVFD members stayed on the scene until approximately 9 p.m.  
    The fire took approximately 2,000 to 2,500 acres, owned by several different landowners, consisting of 90 percent grasslands and 10 percent wheat stubble.
    SVFD members continued to monitor the blaze on Sunday, watching for hot spots that might flare up.

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