March 28, 2002

Fire Destroys 50 Hay Bales On Farm North Of Memphis

While the Monday morning snowstorm may have alleviated the danger of grass fires for a while, it came to late for local firefighters who were busy Saturday, March 23 with a variety of blazes across northeast Missouri.

The Scotland County Fire Department was called into action at approximately 10:30 a.m. when a fire was reported on the Max Whitney farm just north of Memphis.

A small grass fire along the roadway quickly spread into a large group of hay bales. More than a dozen firemen responded to the call taking six fire trucks to the scene.

Scotland County firemen Roger Gosney and Matt Dodge slow the fire down while neighbors work to remove undamaged hay bales during a fire at the Max Whitney farm north of Memphis on March 23.

Upon arrival the fire department found a large number of the bales already consumed by fire. The smoke from the blaze caused traffic on Route A to be shutdown by law enforcement due to the hampered visibility.

Due to the large number of bales on fire, the department was unable to extinguish the blaze. Firemen worked to keep the fire from spreading to additional bales while workers used tractors and trucks with bale-stabbers, to move the undamaged bales.

Fireman Mike Drummond looks on as Max Whitney tries to move some of the burning bales away from the rest of the hay.

Three full loads of water were used to control the fire.

"No amount of water we were going to be able to put on those bales would have made a difference," stated fire chief Mark Drummond. "All we could do was lend a hand to get the undamaged hay away from the fire and keep it from spreading to the surrounding area."

Once the undamaged bales were removed the department then watched over the fire scene as the damaged bales burned. The bales were unrolled in order to speed the process somewhat but the department was still on the scene for approximately six hours.

Approximately 50 bales were destroyed in the fire that did an estimated $1,000 in damage.

During that process the fire department received a second page at 1:55 p.m. regarding a grass fire north of Crawford on Route B at the Wayne Weiler residence.

Six firemen were dispatched from the Whitney fire scene taking three fire trucks to the second fire.

The blaze had spread from a pond bank down into a cut cornfield. The firemen were able to stop the spread of the fire before it reached the brush line on the east side of the field.

The fire department's new brush truck did the bulk of the work at the second fire while other firemen used water backpacks to quickly bring the fire under control.

The Downing Fire Department worked two grass fires on March 23 as well. The volunteers assisted the Lancaster Fire Department at the scene of a controlled burn that ultimately consumed an estimated 200 acres of CRP. The final total was described as more than was originally planned for the burn.

While fueling up the fire trucks after the first blaze the department responded to a second grass fire at the Tom Reel farm where approximately a half acre of ground was consumed by fire.

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