Stop lighting fires is the message from McLeese Volunteer Fire Department after a grass fire escaped from a resident Friday afternoon.
“A resident thought it would be a good idea to light the grass on fire and it was really windy, and it just got away big time,” said fire chief Ian Hicks.
“It ended up becoming acres and acres of roaring grass fire that went into the bush and along the side of the highway, and at one point the vehicles on the highway were disappearing into clouds of smoke.”
Hicks said the wind luckily pushed the fire north along the highway rather than east into the hundreds of acres of dry grass.
“Another resident that lives nearby has his own personal firetruck and he ended up charging into the field getting stuck but in a spot that they were able to access the front plank of the fire, and they caught it there and then forestry had guys in there,” he said.
“Just a lot of unnecessary chaos is really what happened there.”
Hicks said because the Department does not yet have a building of its own, the eight members were unable to use the Department’s three pumper trucks.
“They can’t be outside when it goes below zero or the pipes will crack and freeze so we wait until it stops freezing, and this just kind of happened to catch us with no trucks except for our small quick response truck which is a 4×4 and it has an internal tank that is inside the canopy and we have water totes that we got from Gibraltar, thankfully, and they’re on stands,” he said.
“Anybody with a pickup can back up and throw a tote on the back and we have multiple portable pumps and things like that so you can turn any one-ton truck into an off-road firefighting vehicle so that’s how we got it done. Luckily mother nature and the community and everybody stepped up.”
Hicks said the fire is now out and adds that the area had received some rain Friday night.
“When I first saw the thing I thought my god this is going to go a mile wide and just going to go roaring right into McLeese Lake and there was nothing to stop it, but the wind very lucky it blew it towards the highway which was a good fire break but could have had a car accident-I mean people couldn’t see where they were going,” he said
“Stop lighting fires. That’s my message of the day.”