Fire crews battle area field blazesDry fields, strong southerly winds and plentiful fuels have provided perfect conditions for harvest fires this week and kept area fire crews busy Thursday.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
Dry fields, strong southerly winds and plentiful fuels have provided perfect conditions for harvest fires this week and kept area fire crews busy Thursday.
There were no immediate reports of any buildings burned, but there were injuries reported.
A Kennebec firefighter who suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns battling a blaze in Lyman County on Wednesday was expected to be released from a Chamberlain hospital on Thursday, KGFX radio reported.
Two firefighters from Yankton were injured fighting a field fire just across the border in Nebraska’s Cedar County on Wednesday, but were reported in good condition after receiving medical attention.
A fire burning along the Todd County-Tripp County line grew to about 20,000 acres.
Another fire burned about 650 acres of sunflowers and corn in Sully County on Wednesday, with damage estimates reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
To the north, there were fires reported fields near Vivian on Thursday.
The Mitchell dispatch center reported field fires in the Kimball, White Lake and Emery areas late Thursday.
In Charles Mix County, minor fires were reported from Wagner to Lake Andes, and from Geddes to Platte.
Douglas County Sheriff Troy Strid reported minor fires near Delmont and Armour.
Harvesting was nearly finished in a field off Highway 37 two miles north of Parkston when a cornfield caught fire. Area fire crews quickly responded and knocked down the fire, which burned about an acre of corn, according to one report.
Farther south, another fire briefly popped up off Highway 18 west of Tripp, Hutchinson County Sheriff Jim Zeeb said. Deputies briefly shut down Highway 18 due to poor visibility caused by smoke, he said.
Fires were reported near Letcher, in Sanborn County and near Carthage and Howard in Miner County — all in soybean fields.
In Hanson County, a small soybean field caught fire off 416th Avenue and Plano Road (247th Street) less than a day after numerous area crews converged farther south to extinguish a 50-acre corn stubble blaze at the Rosedale Colony.
To reduce harvest fires, South Dakota State University Extension officials urge farmers to maintain farm equipment and keep it clean.
Power washers are recommended to remove all grease, oil and crop residue that can retain heat and raise machine operating temperatures. Badly worn bearings can generate dangerous heat, as can poorly adjusted or worn drive belts.
Safety specialist Dick Nicolai recommends carrying two fire extinguishers on combines: one mounted in the cab and one where it can be reached from the ground.
If a fire does break out on a machine, quickly shut off the engine, grab an extinguisher, get out, and get help.
“Have a cellular phone or two-way radio nearby to get professional assistance to the field more quickly,” Nicolai said.
A “red flag” fire danger warning issued by the National Weather Service remained in effect for much of the Dakotas.
South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey told South Dakota Public Radio that there also was a chance of rain in that state in coming days. He said some areas have experienced record dryness the past couple of months.
“We really need to be careful with what people are doing, because you can spark a fire really quickly,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Parkston firefighters patrol the side of a cornfield after they extinguished a small fire two miles north of Parkston that was started by a combine Thursday afternoon. Strong winds and dry fields kept firefighters busy Thursday as harvest-related field fires continued to spring up or reflare up throughout the region.