Firefighters battle blazes, wind ThursdayFREEMAN — Exhausted firefighters spent nearly 12 hours Thursday ping-ponging between wind-driven fires in Hutchinson and Turner counties.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
FREEMAN — Exhausted firefighters spent nearly 12 hours Thursday ping-ponging between wind-driven fires in Hutchinson and Turner counties.
One blaze destroyed a large outbuilding on a farm owned by Duane Pankratz at 44130 279th St., about1.5 miles east of Freeman in Turner County.
Freeman Fire Chief Blaine Saarie was unavailable Friday, but firefighter Cody Fransen said the fire completely destroyed a large outbuilding, a tractor, a gravity wagon, a soybean drill and numerous round bales of hay around 11:30 a.m.
Estimates of the losses were not immediately available.
Fransen said fire crews had put out a smaller fire on the property the day before, but it apparently reignited in high winds and stubbornly refused to be put out throughout the day.
Crews had just cleared the Pankratz fire around 1 p.m. when brush fires blew up in fields southwest of Freeman.
A call was made to the Menno Fire Department for mutual aid.
Menno Chief Scott Simonsen said the fire, about 6 miles north and 2.5 miles east of Menno, started when embers blew into a nearby field from the charred remains of a controlled burn of old farm buildings the day before, and ignited corn stubble in the fields.
Menno responded with 11 firefighters and five pieces of equipment.
Tankers from Mettler Implement kept fire vehicles supplied with water, said Fransen who said high winds created problems throughout the day, as Freeman crews repeatedly bounced between the two fires.
“It was non-stop,” Fransen said. It was close to midnight before crews called it a day.
“The wind was our biggest hindrance,” he said. “It made it tough to do anything.”