Wildfires begin again Salina firefighters caught in 'fire tornado;' truck destroyed Bill Byrns <mailto:bbyrns@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> , The Daily Journal October 21, 2003 High winds fanned a number of wildfires that caught two Salina Township firefighters in a volatile "fire tornado" Monday and briefly threatened some homes south of Goodrich. Firefighter Jason Jackson and Engineer Rusty Camp were working a brush truck along the perimeter of a 40 acre field of burning stubble when the "tornado-like" conditions began. "The fire started creating its own wind and feeding upon itself," explained Salina Chief Dan Riegel. "It deprived the truck of oxygen and the engine stalled." "Get us out of here, we're surrounded," crackled a terse radio call from the stranded firemen. "Both were well trained and didn't panic," Riegel said. "They tried to put the fire out around the truck." But the 30 mile an hour winds were too much. Both men had to flee the area running through the fire and smoke to safety. The hungry flames destroyed Salina's 15-year-old brush truck; equipment that will cost $65,000-70,000 to replace, Riegel said. "Luckily we have insurance and no one was hurt." Pilot Township Fire Chief Alan Ramsey believes the Goodrich fire began in a roadside ditch, ignited most likely by a thrown cigarette or hot exhaust. Wind fanned the flames across 40 acres of corn stubble toward a section of standing corn burning an area almost a mile long and three-quarter mile wide, Ramsey said. Firefighters warned several home owners south of Goodrich that they may have to leave "but we stopped the fire before it got there," Ramsey said. "We called a 4-11 box alarm that brought in nine fire departments for assistance. Seven area farmers join Herscher firemen along with fire units from Salina, Limestone, Otto, Essex, Bourbonnais Township, Chebanse Township, Kankakee Township and Cabery. Another field fire just after noon Monday burned nearly a mile long area 1 1/2 mile east of Sun River Terrace, according to Momence Fire Chief Dave Horn. "It almost burned up an irrigation system pivot near 8250 East," Horn said. One Momence firefighter was treated for an injured knee at Riverside Medical Center after he fell into a ditch. Horn and Ramsey warned that conditions are very dry and dangerous right now. "This fire started because a farmer was burning garbage and it got out of control," Horn Said. "Luckily we got it stopped before it got into standing corn." "People should refrain from open burning right now because of the dry conditions," Ramsey said.