Firefighters from three area townships struggled Wednesday to battle a wind-whipped fire that burned across 20 parched acres just south of the Clinton Dam.
Jim Franz, a ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said he was in a boat on Clinton Lake when he saw smoke and reported it about 11 a.m.
Units from the Clinton Township Fire Department were joined by Kanwaka and Wakarusa township firefighters to battle the blaze. Mark Hughes, Clinton Township fire chief, said firefighters had thought they had the blaze under control and left at 12:30 p.m., but about 45 minutes later, a small area rekindled.
The second fire was brought under control by Clinton Township firefighters.
The fires did not threaten any homes, though several are in the area.
Firefighters said a cigarette discarded by hikers might have ignited the blaze; an exact cause, however, was not known.
"I don't think it was intentional," Hughes said. "It's really dry out here."
Until the fire was brought under control, Douglas County Sheriff's officers and Clinton Lake rangers blocked the dam to road traffic for fear smoke might hinder motorists' vision.
There currently are no burning bans for campers at Clinton Lake State Park or on corps property at the lake, officials said. There had been bans earlier this summer, but recent rains had eased fire fears until recently.
"If the wind continues and it continues to be dry, we might have to rethink that" lifting of the ban, said State Park Manager Jerry Schecher.
"This is the driest I've seen here this late in the year," said Schecher, who has been at the park 12 years.