Numerous reports of field and/or grass fires fanned by high winds kept firefighters across western Iowa and eastern Nebraska busy Wednesday afternoon and evening. A fire east of Atlantic at 63930 Hamburg Road was reported at around 2:40-p.m. by the property owner, Gerald Kay, who told authorities his outbuilding was on fire. The approximately 20-by-60-feet barn and about 20 acres of grassland were scorched in the blaze.
Photo’s courtesy Mike Kennon (Cass Co. EMA)
Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees told KJAN News high winds whipping an electrical line appears to have been the cause of the blaze. The line was attached to a yard light just south of the outbuilding. Fire officials observed sparks coming from the line as the winds were whipping it around. Winds fanned the flames into a grassy area and the embers jumped across Highway 71, for a time, forcing authorities to close the road. McNees said the winds created a tremendous amount of smoke and the fire was “Spreading explosively, very, very quickly.” Crews worked diligently to prevent the fire from spreading into a field across the highway, otherwise McNees said, they’d “Have been fighting it for miles.”
Atlantic firefighters received mutual aid from Marne and Anita Fire and Rescue and Wiota Fire. Deputies with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office along with officers from Atlantic Police Department worked to control traffic in the area. Cass County Emergency Management was also on the scene. Emergency crews were on the scene for a nearly two and a half hours. Crews from Anita stopped a train that had left Anita heading west toward Atlantic, because of the danger of flames coming near the tracks.
A few hours later in Shelby County, firefighters from Irwin, Kirkman, Defiance and Harlan were called to the scene of a large field fire at 1725 Redwood Road, in rural Kirkman. Crews were on the scene battling the wind, flames and smoke for at least couple of hours. As of 7-p.m., the fire was spreading so quickly, authorities were considering evacuating an area north of 1800th Street. In Mills County, a 100-year old barn went up in flames near Pacific Junction at around 2:45-p.m., after a controlled burn that was started Tuesday and thought to be extinguished, flared up and scorched several acres. Authorities say there were two grass fires in Adair County and one in Adams County, as well.
No injuries were reported from any of the fire scenes as of late Wednesday evening. Early Thursday morning (3/27), firefighters from Anita and Wiota were called to the scene of a power pole fire in Audubon County. The call about the pole located near 3486 Quail Avenue, came in at around 3:35-a.m. Crews were on the scene for a little more than an hour.