Damage from slough fire ‘six figures at least’

Farm Forum

A fire truck and a local farmer’s tractor were lost in a slough fire that burned 750 acres north of Warner on Oct. 28.

Brown County Emergency Management Director Scott Meints updated commissioners on the damage during the Nov. 1 Brown County Commission meeting.

Meints did not have a total cost of the damage, but told commissioners it would be expensive.

“I’m actually afraid to see the cost. It’ll be six figures at least. I’m hoping insurance steps up,” he said.

The fire truck belonged to the Warner Fire Department.

A farmer was using a tractor to help create fire breaks when it got stuck in the slough and ultimately was destroyed by flames, Meints said. He said the farmer also lost some tillage equipment.

The fire truck was trying to save the tillage equipment when it got stuck.

The Warner and Aberdeen Rural fire departments were the first called to 38429 139th St. — about 3 miles north of Warner — around 3 p.m. on Oct. 28.

Meints said if the insurance company does not cover the cost of the farmer’s lost equipment, other farmers might be dissuaded from helping fire departments.

“One of my worries is if this farmer doesn’t get reimbursed for this tractor (we will) lose the ability to haul in farmers that we definitely need to be a part of our wild land firefighting capabilities, because the only way we can stop these things is creating fire breaks,” Meints said.

He said he is waiting to hear back from the insurance company to see if the loss will be covered.

Meints said the farmer left his equipment once it got stuck, but was not in any immediate danger from the fire.

“It’s not that this was a life-or-death situation, but it’s an unfortunate situation that we lost some personal equipment in this fire. It was a dangerous situation down there for our firefighters. It was a pretty spectacular fire to witness,” he said.

Flames reached as high as 30 feet, Meints said.

Commissioner Tom Fischbach said there were many farmers who responded to the fire. Fischbach lives and owns farmland near Warner.

The Columbia, Stratford, Groton, Hecla, Frederick, Claremont, Mellette, Northville, Ipswich and Sand Lake Wildlife Refuge fire crews also responded to the call. North Central Farmers Elevator and Wheat Growers provided tanks of water to replenish the fire trucks.

“I want to make sure that we get this farmer and this fire department taken care of, so that will be our No. 1 priority,” Meints said.