Fire consumes 750 acres

Farm Forum

Area firefighters were northwest of Claremont for nearly 10 hours on Sunday containing a slough fire that burned an estimated 750 acres.

The fire apparently flared up briefly Monday afternoon, though the situation was minor, said Scott Meints, Brown County Emergency Management director.

He said area fire departments were originally notified at 2:23 p.m. Sunday of a vehicle fire at the intersection of 408th Avenue and 114th Street. A utility terrain vehicle was driving through tall, dry rushes, which started the fire, he said. The vehicle was destroyed.

“Everything spread to the slough,” Meints said.

The area contains land that can’t be farmed and is under water part of the year, Meints said. Land management is also dictated by a federal easement, he said, and the area is now filled with dry grasses and other materials.

“In those areas, you need to use caution,” Meints said. “And take a fire extinguisher along.”

No homes were at risk, Meints said, but there were a couple of deer stands that were likely destroyed.

The terrain of the area made it difficult to contain the fire, he said. Departments were restricted to lighter grass rigs and four-wheelers to access different areas.

Volunteer fire departments from Claremont, Hecla, Frederick, Columbia, Groton, Aberdeen rural and North Marshall responded to the fire. Officials from the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge also responded.

“Those folks were invaluable,” Meints said of the Sand Lake personnel who had trained fire management specialists helping to direct fire containment efforts. A marsh master brought by Sand Lake was used to mow fire breaks and contain the fire.

Food and water was supplied by The Salvation Army, and local farmers hauled water that was pumped out of Crow Creek slough, Meints said.

If a person is found negligent in respect to the cause of the fire, Meints said, volunteer fire departments can issue a bill for the time spent on the scene.

Tom Schmitt, chief deputy for the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, said he hasn’t seen a report in connection to the fire. But, he said, if the fire was not intentionally set, it’s not likely that there will be charges.

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