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April 3rd, 2010

I don't remember ever hearing of a fire danger warning being issued for this area, even during some of the droughts we've been through, although maybe I missed something when I was younger. I think it worked, though -- we didn't get innundated by wildland fires as we expected to be.

Albion New Era story by ... me! No pictures -- every time I made a run my truck got disregarded before reaching the scene.


A warning issued by the National Weather Service may have cut down on grass and field fires around Noble County last week.

Nine wildland fires were reported to the Noble County Sheriff's Department between Wednesday and Friday, but it could have been a lot worse. Most of the fires were minor, and several were controlled burns that caused false alarms because property owners didn't bother to call them in.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the northern third of Indiana on Friday, after having a Fire Weather Watch in effect earlier in the week. It was the first Red Flag Warning many firefighters in the area could remember, although they're common in other parts of the country. The warning went into effect because of a combination of record high temperatures that reached into the 80's, sustained winds of 15-25 mph, and relative humidity values dropping into the 25% range.

Unusually warm days in this area normally tend to be humid, but in this case already dry dead grass and brush became even more flammable.

Only three fires was reported on Friday, one when a passing police officer noticed grass burning in the area of SR 9 and CR 400 N at about 3:49 p.m. Albion Fire Chief Brad Rollins quickly arrived and discovered it was a controlled burn that hadn't been reported.

The first fire of the day broke out in the area of county roads 500S and 500E at about 3:19 a.m. An area resident reported hearing what sounded like a gun shot, and looked outside to find a small fire in a field nearby. Churubusco firefighters quickly brought that blaze under control, but the cause couldn't be determined.

Also Friday, Albion Police located a pile of material burning on Washington Street, and had it extinguished by the property owner. Open burning is against the law inside town limits.

The most serious fire of the week happened near Ligonier Wednesday, when four fire departments were needed to bring a blaze under control. A field started burning in the area of county roads 1000N and 1175W at about 4:25 p.m., and was quickly blown into neighboring fields. The Ligonier Fire Department called for four wheel drive brush trucks from the Clinton and Benton Township Fire Departments in Elkhart County, and the Topeka Fire Department in LaGrange County. It took about forty minutes to bring the blaze under control.

Fire trucks responded twice to the same location near county roads 650 W and 50 N -- once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday -- extinguishing first a field fire, and then a fire along a ditch. In addition, on Tuesday Cromwell fire trucks rolled to a field fire near 7368 W 100 N, and Avilla firefighters doused a cornfield fire near 300S and 700E.

On Wednesday Albion firefighters investigated a possible tree and brush fire near 0355E 400 N, and again arrived to discover it was an unreported controlled burn.

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