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Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Wildfire travels four miles in Iroquois County before extinguished Wednesday evening

DANFORTH – A wildfire is out this morning after 14 area fire departments and 10 farmers battled a blaze near Danforth on Wednesday.

A local farmer reported the fire just after 3:40pm yesterday.  Fire officials had the blaze extinguished just before 9 pm.

According to Jason Brown, Assistant Fire Chief at Danforth Fire Protection District, the fire at its peak was three-quarters of a mile wide at times traveling four miles before it was extinguished. Fire officials from Danforth, Gilman, Onarga, Crescent City, Watseka, Ashkum, Chebanse Township, Otto, Herscher, Cullom, Kepmton, Saunimon, Thawville, and Piper City all assisted in the battle Wednesday.

Brown praised the local community and how well that support system works.

“Conditions yesterday were far from ideal.  Field fire in general is a bad thing in itself, but when you add 30-40 mile per hour winds, it makes it a very bad situation.” Brown says.  “For people burning trash, when there’s a red flag warning that’s the type of thing that could happen.  Fortunately, we did the best we could to get it as stopped as quick as we could.  If it wasn’t for the farmers that showed up with equipment, there could’ve been more acres lost.”

Brown says ‘turning dirt black’ was key to stopping the blaze.

“We needed extra help to turn that dirt black and make a firebreak. That’s where the farmers came into play.  We had farmers from all over the immediate area showing up with tractors; chisel plows, asking ‘how can we help.’” Brown explained.  “That says a lot for the farming community and for our area.  Always there to help one another. Everyone worked together and we had a good outcome.”

Brown says all the departments are grateful for the outpouring of support and those who came out to support firefighters fighting the blaze Wednesday afternoon.

“We even had farmer’s wives, Iroquois County Chamber of Commerce, they were gathering up bottles of water for the firemen.  Local fertilizer company, Nutrien out of Onarga, that brought us 8,000 gallons of water on tankers if we needed extra water.” Brown said. “I can’t emphasis enough how grateful our department along with all the other departments out there are for everyone that helped out.”

The Assistant Fire Chief asked residents to continue to adhere to red flag warnings, like those issued Tuesday and Wednesday this week, to avoid such fires.

“If there is a red flag warning, absolutely no burning, whatsoever.  All it takes is one little amber the size of your finger nail to spark a fire when it’s that dry and that windy.”  Brown told Country Herald Thursday.  “Don’t flick your cigarette butts out the window, cause they can stay very hot for quite a while and can catch grass on fire which next to a grain field or a corn field that’s ready to be harvested.  It don’t take anything for that to ignite.  Just be adhere to that warning and don’t burn.”

Wednesday’s blaze reportedly destroyed over 40 acres of grain affecting ten farms in the area.

“As for the farmer where the fields started on fire, it’s one of those were it’s still under investigation in what actually caused it,” Brown said Thursday.  “It wasn’t like it was somebody burning trash or anything.  It was just a fluke thing that we’re still investigating what the actual cause was that started it.”

No word on what caused the wildfire as officials continue to investigate its origins.

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