Six units from the St. James Fire Department along with trucks from the LaSalle, Lewisville and Madelia Fire Departments fought a large grass fire that raced across the open fields of four local farms on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 3.
The fire was located about a half mile northeast of the St. James Airport, east of 760th Ave.
St. James Fire Chief Jason Monnens said fire fighters were on the scene for more than three hours with the fire finally being put out around 5 pm.
Monnens said approximately 50 acres were burned. Most of those acres had been harvested, but an estimated two to three acres of standing corn was destroyed.
The fire spread rapidly because of the bone dry conditions and because on that afternoon, winds were blowing out of the SE at 17 miles an hour with gusts up to 22 miles an hour.
The fire destroyed no structures or equipment. Monnens said it was one of the larger grass fires the SJFD has battled over the last few years.
In addition to the six units from St. James FD, the other three departments contributed five additional units. Monnens said the St. James tanker trucks made many runs to get water for the grass rigs in the fields.
Two farmers helped contain the fire by using their big tractors to plow under corn and bean stubble that was ahead of the spreading fire. Monnens said the wind blew burning embers out ahead of the main fire causing the fire to start in many different spots. The winds made it possible for the fire to jump across several tile drainage ditches.
The fire was of undetermined origin. No farm equipment was in the area where the fire started and there was nothing the fire fighters found that indicated it might be the source of the fire.
Residents are reminded that due to the severe drought conditions and the very high fire rating that Watonwan County is currently under a burning ban.