Archive for Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Firefighters battle two blazes in homes in county

Several townships, city fire departments, kept busy with grass fires, issue burning bans

August 20, 2003

Firefighters in Southern Leavenworth County have had a busy few days.

One house was destroyed, a second one was damaged and other property was threatened in three fires within two days.

At 3:30 a.m. Sunday, firefighters were called to the 18000 block of Cantrell Road, where the kitchen of a home was on fire.

"It gutted the kitchen," said Dan Tallman, fire chief for Sherman Township Fire Department.

He said Tuesday morning that the cause of the blaze remained under investigation.

Family members who were home at the time of the fire escaped unharmed.

Firefighters with Stranger and Reno townships also responded to that fire.

The second fire, about 4 a.m. Monday in the 13300 block of 184th Street, gutted a home.

"It was fully involved," Tallman said. "It's gone. It's still under investigation. We have no idea what caused it."

He said an investigator with the State Fire Marshal's office is aiding Sherman Township fire investigator Dale Box with his probe into the cause.

The homeowner was not in the house at the time of the fire, Tallman said.

Firefighters from Stranger, Reno and Fairmount townships also responded to that fire.

About noon Monday, firefighters from Reno Township were back out fighting a grass fire in the 24900 block of Hemphill Road.

According to Richard Ogden, Reno Township fire chief, the blaze was started by an electric fence.

"If a weed comes up and touches it, it will start arcing until it burns it off," Ogden said. "That's OK if it's green grass."

The fence charger is designed to prevent weeds from growing up under the fence, Ogden explained.

"They'll burn the top of the grass off so it doesn't short the fence out," he said. "It did its job."

Ted Grinter, who farms land across the street, saw the fire and alerted authorities.

"They weren't home," Ogden said of the homeowners. "It was going toward his barn. He had a trailer, a big pile of wood sitting there. If Ted Grinter hadn't called it in, we would have had a major disaster there. He was a lucky guy."

For now, several area township fire departments, including Tonganoxie City Fire Department, will not issue burn permits. Others that have banned burning in their townships are Sherman, Fairmount, Reno and Kickapoo. Stranger Township will issue permits for Saturdays and Sundays.

On Sunday afternoon, Sherman Township firefighters also responded to a grass fire that involved between two and three acres. "We decided until we get two inches of rain or better, we're not going to issue any permits," said Tallman. "Even if you water your grass, it will still burn."

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