Archive for Sunday, May 28, 2006

Flames from lightning ravage farmland

May 28, 2006

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— An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 acres of mostly idled farmland were scorched after lightning sparked more than a dozen blazes in Hamilton County, authorities said.

The lightning was part of a storm system that moved through the western Kansas county Thursday night.

"There was no rain," said Larry Ochs, mayor of Syracuse and the Hamilton County Fire Department's communications officer. "I understand at one point we had 13 different fires going."

He said firefighters responded first to a blaze in the southwest corner of the county.

"Then the next thing we knew, they were to the southeast and north of us," he said. "A little while later, there were some west and northeast."

Several homes were threatened, but none caught fire, officials said.

Firefighters from several surrounding communities battled the blaze, which was blown by winds of 30 to 40 mph.

"We even had some local farmers with tanks and pumps for sprayers working on them," Ochs said. "Thank goodness everyone jumped in and helped."

Dave Erwin, manager of Syracuse Co-Op Exchange, hauled water to the fires, using one of the elevator's fertilizer trailers with his pickup.

Milk haulers filled their trailers with water, while at least one crop duster battled the blaze from the air.

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