Local FDs kept busy
Wed, 05/05/2021 - 4:33pm admin
HOWARD COUNTY - Cresco, Protivin and Lime Springs Fire Departments were kept busy this past weekend with some small and big fires.
1. The first fire was called into the Protivin department around 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, April 30, on Timber Ave., south of 190th St., when burning grass got out of control. They were at the scene for three hours.
2. The second fire took place on Saturday, May 1. Cresco Fire received a page to a ditch fire at 135th & Pine Ave, west of Sovereign’s Elevator at about 4:15 p.m.
According to Marge Johnson, whose property was nearby, some individuals were riding ATVs. They went in the ditch. It is assumed a spark flew out and ignited some corn stalks that had blown in the ditch from the field. One of the riders looked back as they were riding and turned around to call in the fire. They got help to try to put it out from Logan Johnson, a neighbor, who gathered shovels.
“The wind was coming from the southwest and came across the field and up to our buildings,” Marge said.
She noted the Cresco fire department got to the fire in 20 minutes, even though the farm is 10 minutes outside Cresco.
Cresco Fire Chief Neal Stapelkamp stated, “While responding to the scene, mutual aid from the Protivin Fire Department was requested due to the extreme wind and dry conditions.” Wind conditions in excess of 45 miles per hour at times made this a very difficult and dangerous response to personnel and to a nearby farmstead.
Firefighters initially were trying to protect the farmstead to the northeast of the origin of the fire, but flames jumped the road and traveled quickly to the Steve (Marge’s son) Johnson property.
Cresco Fire set up at the Johnson building site in hopes of protecting the buildings, which they did. One out-building sustained minor damage, a wooden fence and several round bales.
Fire crews stayed on the scene for over five hours.
Marge commends the firefighters for getting to the fire quickly and being prepared. They thought it was just a ditch fire, and it turned into something much bigger.
“Someone said if they had been five minutes later, the barn would have burned,” she added. The hay bales were just 25 feet from the barn.
Cresco Fire was assisted by the Protivin Fire Department, Howard County Sheriff’s Department, Regional Health Services Ambulance and Cresco Fire Dispatch.
3. Protivin Fire Captain Chris Shimek said, “It was after 7 p.m. when we left the field fire. Then we got a call at 7:30 for a brush fire at Art’s Milling.” There were no buildings involved. The fire had been burning for a week or so and was reignited through the strong winds.
Firefighters were done around 8:45 p.m.
4. Cresco Fire was called out to the biggest and most damaging fire of the weekend. There was an apartment complex fire at 220 Pine Place at 1:36 a.m. on Sunday, May 2.
Stapelkamp said, “The initial report indicated there was heavy fire showing, and all occupants of the four-unit complex had been evacuated and escaped the fire.”
Upon arrival on scene by Department Chiefs, the aerial truck was requested for the first truck out for optimal set up to the upper level (third story), where there was extreme fire conditions showing, including heavy fire shooting out the upper window.
The Chief reported, the aerial truck was used on the fire side to allow for the elevated waterway to initiate a defensive fire attack. Several additional hose lines were used as well from this truck for additional attack lines on the fire side from the ground.
The second pumper truck set up on the backside of the structure on 3rd Street West and stretched several hose lines as well with ground attacks to the north and south sides of the building.
“Due to the heavy fire load, and the limited accesses available to the structure, as well as many remodel challenges, an offensive interior attack was not possible,” he stated.
Mutual Aid was requested from the Protivin and Lime Springs Fire Departments for additional personnel.
Stapelkamp said, “With the amount of fire present on arrival, and the challenges of construction, I am very pleased with the efforts by all firefighters, as this structure could have ended up on the ground very easily.”
All residents of the apartment have been displaced. The apartment of origin is a total fire loss and all other units are considered a total loss as well. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Lime Springs went out around 2:30 a.m. and got back to the station at 4:45 a.m.
Fire units remained on scene for over four hours. Cresco Fire was assisted by the Protivin Fire Department, Lime Springs Fire Department, Cresco Police Department, Howard County Sheriff’s Department, Cresco Fire Dispatch, Howard County Emergency Management, Regional Health Services Ambulance and Alliant Energy.
5. Cresco fire was called back out to the field fire on Sunday as some hay bales started again.
Luckily, there were no injuries at any of the fires, and all the cattle at the field fire were safe.