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Multi-agency response by Stites makes quick work of hayfield fire; conditions warrant care

— A multi-agency response made quick work of a hayfield fire near Stites last week, an incident highlighting the start of fire season and, according to officials, a reminder to be prepared.

Last Wednesday afternoon, June 10, approximately three acres were burned on private ground located approximately two and a half miles from Stites up Lukes Gulch, according to Chief Mark Anderson, Kooskia Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD). A bearing overheated in a baler, setting it on fire. The haying crew quickly extinguished the blaze, however, not before it set the field on fire and went into the hay rows.

Responding to the 2:44 p.m. 9-1-1 call by Darin Newman were KVFD and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) with a total seven personnel and two engines. A Forest Service engine was also dispatched but was canceled when firefighters got the blaze under control approximately 45 minutes after arrival. Crews were on scene for around three hours on mop-up and monitoring activity.

Fire damage was minimal to the baler, which suffered more from the initial mechanical problem, according to Anderson.

“People need to be aware that even a small fire can be driven by the wind and can spread pretty fast,” he said, “especially in the dry grass, and in the heat we’ve been having.”

For those planning to burn, Anderson said to get the proper IDL permits, as well as have enough water on hand. Even in the event of a small fire, he advised to call for fire agency assistance promptly.

“Because it can spread pretty fast,” he said. “Let us get on it quick so it doesn’t have time to spread.”

In this incident, Anderson noted this was a good example of mutual agency cooperation that allowed crews to quickly control the situation.

“We had the help we needed so it didn’t get away,” he said.


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