150 acres of wheat lost in fire near Mott; fire crews across southwest ND busy respondingDry conditions have led to a number of blazes in the region in the past few weeks and much of southwestern North Dakota was under Red Flag warnings Tuesday. Mott and the Medora area experienced first hand what the dry conditions can do on Tuesday.
By: Dickinson Press staff, The Dickinson Press
Dry conditions have led to a number of blazes in the region in the past few weeks and much of southwestern North Dakota was under Red Flag warnings Tuesday. Mott and the Medora area experienced first hand what the dry conditions can do on Tuesday.
Fire takes out 150 acres of spring wheat
Firefighters from the Mott and Hebron fire districts responded to a fire in a wheat field northeast of Mott on Tuesday afternoon.
No one was injured in the fire, which started from sparks from a wire harness that shorted out in a combine, said Troy Mosbrucker, Mott Fire District fire marshal.
Custom combiners were harvesting a field of canola when the sparks from the last combine ignited the field.
“The field was right beside a wheat field owned by Shane Hertz,” he said. “The wind blew the flames right into the field.”
Hertz was harvesting four miles west of the field where the fire was and heard a number of people on two-way radios talking about smoke, so he headed over and learned it was his field.
It destroyed about 150 acres of spring wheat, he said.
“It was over before you knew it,” Hertz said. “It’s kind of ironic that it started in a neighbor’s canola field. When you straight cut a canola field the stubble has a tinge of green and it doesn’t seem to be something that would burn.”
The Mott Fire District responded at 1 p.m. with five trucks. Hebron arrived with three or four trucks, Mosbrucker said.
“The farmers showed up to disc around the fire — the wind was crazy,” Mosbrucker said. “The flames were sometimes 15 to 20 feet in the air. The wheat was like adding gas to a fire and the 20-mile-hour winds didn’t help either.”
He said several bales in the ditch caught on fire, but the firefighters prevented it from crossing the road.
He said the combine experienced mechanical damage.
He credits the cooperation of the Mott and Hebron firefighters, along with local farmers, for putting out the fire in a couple of hours.
“Around here, the farmers show up, especially with the water,” he said.
Hertz talked to the owner of the harvest company and she apologized and said an insurance adjuster would be in touch.
“It was amazing how many people dropped everything they were doing and they came to the fire and they were going to put it out,” he said, adding “there’s no way I can remember all the faces that came while it was happening, but I want to thank them.”
Crews contain Badlands fire
U.S. Forest Service crews working on Tuesday contained a fire burning eight miles south of Medora in the Badlands.
“Now they’ll be working on those spots in that interior, mopping up, making sure that the fire is out,” said Babete Anderson, public affairs officer for the Dakota Prairie Grasslands/U.S. Forest Service. “When they get a perimeter around it, they’re saying it’s pretty secure, it won’t grow any farther than what it is.”
Fifty workers battled the blaze, including hand crews, several engines and a helicopter that performed water drops.
One crew out of Los Padres National Forest in California was also brought in, Anderson said.
“This happened to be a Forest Service crew with skills and expertise working in tough terrain,” Anderson said. “They are used to the rugged country and they can come in and dig fire lines.”
The fire covered an estimated 65 acres before it was contained, she said.
The remaining crews will watch the area for several days, Anderson said. A weekend lightning strike is believed to have started the fire. It was first reported at about 6 p.m. on Sunday. No injuries were reported Monday.
The first responder to the blaze was the Billings County Fire District, but the U.S. Forest Service took over the operation due to the fire’s location.
DFD responds to small fire
The Dickinson Fire Department responded to a small grass fire north of Meadows Drive in an open grassy area Monday evening.
The fire was out on arrival. No one was injure and the cdause of the blaze is under investigation, Fire Prevention Specialist Deb Barros said.