[cifnmedia] Salina firefighters caught in 'fire tornado;' truck destroyed

  • From: "Wilcox, Christopher M" <cmwilcox@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 00:10:20 -0500

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. 

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