Schofield FireLake Fire

Double fire call last week

The calls came into the Philip Volunteer Fire Department early Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 2.
A grassfire had been started by a lightning strike from storm clouds that brought a constant 35 miles per hour wind, but brought no rain. Philip firemen responded, taking several trucks and their two-man crews to four miles north and two miles east of Philip.
A swath of flame, relatively narrow because of the driving wind, was racing south and east. The flat fields were dotted with haybales.
Despite the wind, the fire crews succeeded in getting the fire under control.
A second call came in to the PVFD station. Another lightning-caused fire was racing southeast from its starting point about two miles east of the Philip airport. Smoke from the first fire was still rising above and covering the smoke from the second fire.
Most of the fire rigs from Philip broke off from the first fire. Two trucks remained to mop up, working hard so periphery hot spots and embers whipping from still-burning hay bales did not re-ignite the blaze. When a piece of big machinery runs over a bale to allow it to finish burning quicker, it explodes, briefly engulfing the machinery in brilliant embers and flame.
The Bad River breaks are tough terrain. Trees in the draw were acting like torches, sending firey embers with the wind. PVFD fireman Roger Williams called for as many firefighters from surrounding departments as possible. Kadoka, Wall, Milesville, Midland and Quinn sent crews and rigs. Landowners brought their own water trucks. Other landowners and the Haakon County road department brought equipment for plowing fire breaks.
A monthly PVFD meeting was to be that evening. Now, sandwiches meant for then were combined with food from Coyle’s SuperValu, which was opened after hours in response to the need. More was being brought by surrounding residents. Firemen took turns breaking for food and drink.
Williams’ rig took damage when a tree limb snapped off, smashing the cab roof and its lights, totaling the hood and shattering the windshield. Though tenders got water to the scene, others returned to Philip to refill.
Night’s darkness came, and the departments fought on. If the flames got a start on the flat grain fields south of Bad River, the wind would stoke the fire to something the firemen did not wish to see.

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
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