Traer Fire leads response to 64-acre field fire near Buckingham

Gladbrook Fire among depts. to provide mutual aid

A member of Traer Fire Dept. arrives at the rural Buckingham property of Michael Evans on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 22 as a 64-acre field fire whips its way toward Evans’ property from the south. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL EVANS

The afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 22 was a long and heated one for members of the Traer Fire Department as they led the response to an extensive 64-acre field fire southeast of Buckingham that would eventually take seven hours to extinguish.

The fire – which originated on the north side of a Buckingham address in the 2600 block of 130th Street – was so extensive it necessitated mutual aid from several area fire departments including Gladbrook, Dysart, and La Porte City, as well as assistance from Traer Ambulance, Traer Backhoe Service, Hatch Grading and Contracting, and several local farmers.

According to Traer Fire Chief Tyler Sell, the fire began sometime before 4:00 p.m. on Saturday as a result of a rural Buckingham resident’s burning of tree stumps/logs.

Conditions that day were very windy across the state, building into the afternoon and evening hours from the southeast, according to the weekly weather summary from State Climatologist Justin Glisan. The temperatures on Oct. 22 were also high, with the statewide average recorded as 82 degrees – 23 degrees above normal.

“It spread across a picked corn field,” Sell said of the fire’s path that afternoon. “The wind was strong that day and everything was just extremely dry. We called for mutual aid because of the size and wind conditions.”

The view from Michael Evans’ rural Buckingham property located southeast of town just off Highway D65 on the afternoon of Oct. 22 as a 64-acre fire spreads north across a field of corn stubble toward his property. The fire eventually took seven hours to fight and required Traer Fire Dept. to call for mutual aid from three other departments due to its size and wind conditions that day. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL EVANS

As the fire ripped its way north across two fields of corn stubble, it eventually encountered the southern edge of rural resident Michael Evans’ acreage and hay ground located less than a mile east of Buckingham, just south of Highway D65.

In addition to using the department’s two brush trucks to fight the fire, Traer Fire also deployed three tankers to haul water, positioned a pumper on Evans’ property for protection, and brought out the department’s recently acquired 55-foot aerial ladder truck – a truck which only entered into service earlier this month.

“We used the aerial [for the first time during a call] for a tree that was on fire. It worked well,” Sell said.

Once the fire was under control, Sell said the response continued into the evening hours due to the many hot spots that needed to be put out including trees and along fencelines.

There were also several dozen round bales of hay on Evans’ property that caught fire and needed to be extinguished.

Volunteer firefighters from area departments including Traer, Dysart, Gladbrook, and La Porte City work to extinguish hot spots and bury hay bales on the rural Buckingham property of Michael Evans as part of a 64-acre field fire that spread to Evans’ property on the afternoon of Saturday, October 22. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL EVANS

“We utilized Traer Backhoe and Hatch Contracting because there was about [40] bales [of hay] on fire – we had to bury those to put them out,” Sell said.

Thankfully there were no injuries as a result of the fire.

Although the individual responsible for starting the fire will not face any charges, Sell said, they may be financially responsible for some of the resources used in the response.

“My wife Karen and I appreciate the quick response from the many fire departments, Hatch Excavating, Traer Backhoe Service, and all our neighbors that helped and worked tirelessly to keep our home and buildings safe,” Evans said in a message to the North Tama Telegraph this past weekend. “We are so grateful no one was injured.”

Dry conditions continue across Tama County

Excavators from Traer Backhoe Service and Hatch Grading and Contracting pictured operating well into the night on Saturday, Oct. 22 burying smoldering hay bales on the rural Buckingham property of Michael Evans. Evans’ bales ignited due to a field fire that spread onto his property from the south earlier in the afternoon. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL EVANS

On the afternoon of October 22 when the field fire ignited, Tama County was not under any type of burn ban but nearby Grundy and Black Hawk counties were and continue to be under such bans, Sell said.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), over the past 128 years, Tama County experienced the 20th driest September on record and is currently in the midst of the 16th driest year to date during that same historical period.

The county is 6.18 inches of rainfall below normal at this time.

Roughly the lower two-thirds of Tama County is considered to be in a ‘severe drought,’ a designation that features high fire danger and low surface water levels.

Fire Weather Forecast information for each of Iowa’s 99 counties including Tama County can be accessed through the National Weather Service at the following website: https://www.weather.gov/dmx/fire. Scroll down the page for an interactive county map.

A firefighter surveys the damage while looking for hot spots on the rural Buckingham property of Michael Evans as the sun begins to set on Saturday, October 22. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL EVANS