On Aug. 3, the Alliance Volunteer Fire Department battled a grass fire with the help of mutual aid from other area departments, containing it after it had burned 80 acres.
AVFD Captain Nick Hinman said the department received the report of a grass fire near the intersection of CR68 and Wayne Road at 11:50 a.m.
“We arrived on scene at about 12:15, and at that point, the fire was burning in standing wheat stubble,” said Hinman. “We were experiencing six to eight foot flames with a moderate rate of spread. It was heading north on to a grass and sage pasture.”
Hinman said they called for mutual aid from Hemingford, Bayard and the Nebraska Single Engine Air Tanker, an aerial unit that was used to limit the spread of the fire.
“We used all of the resources to contain the fire, and we used the SEAT to drop some retardant on the standing wheat stubble to halt any forward progression on the perimeters. We had help from Panhandle Co-op, they brought in a bunch of water for us. A local farmer put a disk line around the north end of it to help stop the fire, because it was moving faster than we could get to it.”
Hinman said that although it was not an issue during this fire, the use of drones can hinder their efforts while using the SEAT.
“I know nationwide, it’s becoming an issue,” said Hinman. “When the SEAT planes are flying on fires, I know a lot of people like to go fly drones and stuff like that. If they fly, our aviation resources can’t fly, so that can hamper the firefighting efforts. We didn’t see any on this fire, and the pilot didn’t report any, but it’s always good to remind people.”
The terrain posed a challenge to the firefighters as they worked to contain the blaze, Hinman said. The wind also aided in the spread of the fire.
“It was very rough ground in the pasture,” said Hinman. “It took us a little while. We had a lot of little flare ups here and there. The wind was a pain. We had low humidity, and high temperatures, though it wasn’t as high as normal for this time of year.”
Hinman said the fire was declared controlled at 2:21 p.m. He said no equipment or structures were damaged in the fire.
“We did have a house about 200 yards to the southwest of the fire,” Hinman said. “A homestead with a large set of tree rows. We mitigated that with the retardant drop from the SEAT to put a line right there and keep the fire from burning that way. There was another tree row to the east of the fire that was a concern as well.”
A bearing on a combine, Hinman said, caused the fire. The operator of the combine was able to move it out of the path of the fire.
“They were out in a part of the field that had already been cut,” said Hinman.
Hinman noted that the Alliance Volunteer Fire Department is always seeking more volunteers as they work to keep the community safe.
“If anyone is interested, they can call the fire station, or stop by and have a chat,” Hinman said. “We’re always looking for people.”