Area firefighters and farmers worked together to extinguish a massive field fire west of Danforth the afternoon of Oct. 14.
It was one of several field fires in the Illiana area. This one was about four miles from north to south.
Danforth Fire Protection District Chief Jason Brown said the fire started at County Road 2000 and traveled to County Road 2400. Depending on the wind, the fire was from about 200 yards wide to a half-mile wide. Danforth firefighters were called at about 3:30 p.m.
The winds and dry conditions caused the dangerous conditions throughout the area. Brown said the entire MABAS unit for Iroquois County was out at some point.
And most of them ended up at the Danforth fire. In all 14 fire departments from as far north a Herscher and as far east as Donovan and Watseka responded, he said.
Also responding were a number of farmers, who brought tractors and tillage equipment. “Without their assistance it could have been worse,” he said.
Brown said the wind would take the embers and carry them, causing the fire to jump. The tillage equipment helped make fire breaks.
Brown said it is unclear at this time how many acres were on fire. One good thing, he said, is “most all of the ground that it covered had already been harvested.”
Parts of two standing cornfields and an old corn crib were lost, he said. The winds causes a lot of smoke and the fire wrapped around the corn crib before firefighters could see it was on fire.
Danforth firefighters were on scene until 9 p.m. He said they were able to start releasing mutual aid departments around 7:30-8 p.m.
After the fire was extinguished, firefighters had a chance to reflect. Brown said as he talked with some of the other chiefs — who have between 15 and 40 years of experience — they all noted they had never seen anything like the fire they had just put out.
“Mother Nature was not playing nice,” he said.
They were thankful, too, that the fire “found the path of the least amount of residences,” he said. At one point there were some residences that were evacuated as a precaution. Those residents were able to go back to their homes that evening.
Brown said there were no injuries and not a lot of losses, though they of course wish there hadn’t been any damage.
He said, too, that the firefighters and farmers who helped out worked well together. The communication was good between departments, and he credits the mutual aid association and box card system.
Brown said they are also appreciative of the community support they received. People took those fighting the fire water to drink. Crop Production of Onarga provided two tankers of water for the trucks to use. “We had a large outpouring of community help,” he said.
Brown said they really appreciate all the work that everyone did to get the fire out as quickly as possible.