CORYDON, KY (6/8/12) – At approximately 12:00 PM on Thursday, June 7th, emergency crews responded to a report of a field-fire in rural Corydon, KY on John Tapp Road.
SurfKY News spoke with Henderson County Emergency Management Director Larry Koerber, who was on-scene. Koerber said that the fire was escalating rapidly when firefighters from Corydon Fire Department arrived. CFD immediately requested backup from all available Henderson County emergency departments.
“The initial report was that the fire was in excess of 200 acres,” said Koerber. “Sometimes that gets exaggerated, but today it was not. The actual damaged area was between 200 and 300 acres. It was almost all wheat stubble field, where the wheat had already been removed.”
Although emergency managers said the cause of the fire was still under investigation, neighbors say that it was a result of field burn-off that became out of control. Burn-offs are intentional fires set by farmers to add nutrients to the soil. In fact, SurfKY News observed similar burn-offs occurring in Webster and Union Counties while en route to the fire.
County Judge Executive Hugh McCormick issued a signed proclamation for Henderson County a week and a half ago that strictly banned burning of this nature, according to Koerber, who said, “We did have some rain over the weekend, but it was isolated to the eastern part of the county. The western part of the county got little rain if any at all. So, in order to protect Smith Mills, he decided to keep the burn ban in effect to keep them safe and to protect from this exact thing.” Koerber warned farmers or other county residents who ignore the proclamation that the ban will be enforced by citation until such time that the county gets sufficient moisture from rain for it to be lifted.
“We had about 8-10 departments respond from Webster County, some from Union County, but most from Henderson County.” added Koerber. “There were about 35 to 40 firemen on-scene, and were able to control the fire after quite a period of time. They kept it from any structures and from any other damage, although we did have telephone pedestals that were burned and destroyed.” The blaze was fast-moving in nature, which spared many of the utility poles and power lines from being damaged. Utilities companies were notified so that they could inspect the power infrastructure in the area.
There were no injuries or medical transports associated with the fire. Several firefighters overheated but quickly recovered. The American Red Cross was on hand to provide Gatorade, water, and iced-down towels to help responders keep cool.
Firefighters use several specialized vehicles for fires of this nature. “Brush Trucks,” four-wheel-drive trucks equipped with skids and water tanks, and Rough Terrain Vehicles (RTVs) are “things that we really need to get in and across ditches and in the areas you can’t get a truck in. We were lucky today because it was dry. Had it have been muddy, the RTVs would be the only things we could have gotten in there.”
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