UPDATE: Crews battling fire in field south of New England

A fire broke out in a field adjacent to the highway two miles south of New England city limits on Monday.

Farmers were quickly combining what they could as a fire south of New England burned during the mid afternoon. (PHOTO BY COLE BENZ | The Herald)
Farmers were quickly combining what they could as a fire south of New England burned during the mid afternoon. (PHOTO BY COLE BENZ | The Herald)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

A fire broke out in a field adjacent to the highway two miles south of New England city limits on Monday. New England Fire Chief Joe Kathrein said that the department was notified of the blaze at about 12:45 p.m. and emergency vehicles could be seen headed that direction as early as 1 p.m.

The cause may have been one of two things; the custom combiner said the header may have hit a rock and sparked the fire, or the heat from after burner on the ignition on the engine may also have been the cause.

Wheat in the field belonged to Reid Sorenson while Del Eisenbarth and Kelly Herberholz had some sunflowers.

Smoke could be seen from miles away as the wind conditions and high temperatures kept the fire going.

Wind gusts were up to 30 mph that day and temperatures reached the low 80s.

Farmers on site were quickly combining what they could before it was burned, the west portion of the field was untouched by flames and they were cutting the side while they still could. Kathrein said this helped contain the fire.

“It could have been a lot worse if they hadn’t kept [combining] like they were doing,” Kathrein said.

Smoke limited visibility on the east side of the section as the fire moved away from the highway.

Kathrein said some wheat was lost, but the total had not been determined yet, and it is not known if the sunflowers will survive.

The exact acreage lost wasn’t known, but Kathrein said it was estimated at more than 200. The fire covered nearly two quarters of land.

This was the biggest blaze they have fought this year, according to Kathrein.

“It was a good sized [fire],” Kathrein said. “[The fire] was the biggest of the year, that’s the most acreage we had to cover.”

Wind was the biggest hurdle the crew had to endure while trying to extinquish the flames.

“Wind was the major factor,” Kathrein said. “The wind kept changing directions on us and that’s what was kind of hindering us.”

The terrain and visibility on the east side of the field also made it difficult to navigate.

Twenty volunteers from the fire department were on scene. Helping the efforts were a few neighbors and Quam Construction. Quam Construction is working on the water project in town and they brought out one of their water tankers.

The Regent Fire Department was also dispatched to the scene for assistance.

By early evening the fire was put out, and the last truck could be seen leaving the area at 4:45 p.m.

No injuries were reported.

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