No one was hurt in the fire and damage was kept to a minimum thanks for fast acting firefighters.
But officials warn this is grass fire season and it’s just the beginning.
Folks driving along I-35 in Warren County were met with lows visibility Wednesday afternoon as flames from a massive fire billowed blinding smoke across the interstate.
The fire started at around 1 p.m. and quickly engulfed land along a three mile stretch leaving nothing but charred dirt and brush in its wake.
It took crews from several fire departments hours to bring it under control.
“Departments from Truro, St. Charles, New Virginia, Indianola, Martensdale, and St. Mary’s are here fighting this fire. It’s right along the interstate. It appears to have started along the interstate,” Chief Doug McCasland of St. Mary’s Fire Department said.
And it traveled fast. Fueled by dry grass, last year’s crops and fanned by high winds.
“This wind’s a killer — blowing this hard out of the south. And as you can see we got plenty of vegetation here for it to keep on going,” Scott Henson with Martensdale Fire Department said.
Tom Brommel saw the line of fire heading towards his property and jumped in his tractor to try to stop it.
“Went out, got the tractor out, put the loader in it, went down by my land, tried to stop it. Wasn’t no stopping it. [The fire] jumped the road,” farmer, Brommel said. “Pretty big. Flames going about ten feet in the air.”
A couple of miles away, Ross Bedwell’s rental home was saved by firefighters who quickly doused it with water. Charred land can be seen just feet from the house and extending for more than a mile behind it.
“They put water all around it. And I was out there beating the bushes behind it trying to keep the stuff down. It’s a mess. It was just real lucky nobody got hurt,” Bedwell said.
A small building on the property was the only real damage. But firefighters warn this is the season for grass fires and next time we might not be so lucky.
“We’ve been on multiple fires this week. The grass is just dangerously dry, so people burning trash or trying to burn off ditches, we’d strongly advise against that. It can get out of hand real easily” McCasland warned.
The flames were under control by around 6 p.m.
Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.
Currently, five southwestern Iowa counties have burn bans — Fremont, Mills, Montgomery, Page And Pottawattamie counties.