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Yeah, it was one of those weekend. The Big One wasn't in our county, but we got involved anyway; meanwhile, we had a whole bunch of little ones to contend with. (Pictures -- not dial-up friendly.)

Albion firefighters were called out four times Friday, battling a barn fire and two field fires in addition to making a medical assist call. It was a busy day for area firefighters, many of whom also responded early Saturday morning to assist with a fire that leveled five cottages along Lake James in Steuben County (see related story).

Fire broke out in a barn at 815 E. Main Street, at about 10:07 a.m., according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. The blaze, at the Simon residence behind the Albion branch of the Noble County Public Library, was believed to have been accidentally set.

The blaze apparently began in a plastic trash container and spread to a nearby wall, filling the wooden structure with smoke, but firefighters arrived quickly and had the flames under control within about ten minutes. A dozen firefighters manning three trucks responded to the fire, which did an estimated $1,000 damage.

Albion firefighters cleared that scene at 11:24 a.m., and were cleaning up at the station when a grass fire was reported 14 minutes later. Four units responded to 2790 N US 33, near Kimmell, where a grass fire spread into a field behind the Leisure Lane Mobile Home Park. Cromwell and Ligonier firefighters were reportedly called in to assist; it took about 25 minutes to control the fire, and about an hour before it was completely extinguished and fire units could clear the scene.

Later that day Cromwell firefighters were called to their station for standby, while Kosciusko County fire departments battled a large fire that reportedly gutted a cottage near Leesburg. They covered for the busy departments from 2 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.

The Albion Fire Department's two brush trucks are stocked with medical equipment and double as first responder vehicles. One was called out just before 4 p.m. to assist EMS personnel on a possible heart attack, and it was enroute to that scene when a field fire broke out at 4596 N 500 E. Firefighters split between the two runs, with the brush truck crew responding directly from the first call to the second.

The fire reportedly spread from burning trash, and blackened over half dozen acres in two fields before being knocked down by units of the Albion and Kendallville Fire Departments. About two dozen firefighters from both departments battled the blaze, bringing it under control in about fifteen minutes.

Kendallville fire trucks leaving that fire were redirected to the Noble County 4H fairgrounds in Kendallville, to investigate a fire alarm.

In addition to those calls, Noble Township firefighters extinguished a grass fire that burned a utility pole near 4165 S 550 W, while Ligonier and Topeka fire trucks were called to a grass fire at 5146 W 900 N.

Fire activity was down the rest of the weekend in this area, although four Noble County fire departments were called to assist at the Lake James incident. Orange Township firefighters investigated a fire in a hollow tree near their city Saturday, and on Sunday Sheriff's Department dispatchers took two calls -- one of a building fire and the other of a field fire -- in which the flames were extinguished while dispatchers were still on the call.

No injuries were reported in any of the Noble County incidents.

Kendallville's white truck is in action, we're getting ours set up. Red trucks are easier to keep from looking dirty. Nyah.
500E 500N field fire

The rookie has the nozzle -- that's 'cause I wasn't there to wrestle it away from him.
attacking cornfield fire

Sometimes the trucks are on the other side of the permimeter and it's time for the guys to go in with hand tools and water extinguishers to douse the last of the embers. Frankly, if the fire's big enough, it can get pretty lonely out there.
checking peremiter

That's the owner in the foreground; he was a dick. Rule one of having a fire on your property: When you started it and didn't keep it under control, don't be a dick toward the people who have to put it out. (Notice the pretty number on the brush truck!)
property owner watches fire attack

Just stand there for the camera and pretend you didn't get the truck stuck. That wasn't uncommon this year, when we had so much rain.
brush truck stuck

The pump had problems with its choke, so I marched on out there as if I had any idea how to make mechanical repairs. That's the rookie behind me -- get outta the way, probie, it's my turn to get into the picture! The pump operator is Mitch Fiandt, who like me is a member of the Town Council -- I believe that's the same truck he got stuck a couple of months ago, but like I said, it's been that kind of a year. The red helmet belongs to his son, Captain Dave.

Oh, well -- as long as I'm up here, might as well help take up the hose.
taking up hose

That's the cavalry in the background, Albion's other brush truck, which was on a medical assist call when this came in. They're heading around to hit a fenced in meadow the fire burned into, which couldn't be easily reached from the field we were in -- most of the fire is out at this point. About a month ago that truck's engine was damaged when it hit high water while on another medical call, and in the same week we lost the transmission in the other truck after it got buried in a wet field. There is an irony to the fact that one of our biggest headaches at brush fires can be too much moisture.
cleaning up equipment

Four Noble County Fire Departments were among 28 departments battling a wind whipped blaze that destroyed five homes and damaged several more along Lake James in Steuben County Friday night.

Investigators were returning to the scene Monday to try and determine what started the blaze in a lake cottage just before midnight. High winds pushed flames through the closely spaced vacation cottages, leveling houses and spreading into surrounding woods in a scene usually thought of as coming from high risk areas in southwest or other wildfire prone areas. It took two hours for an army of firefighters to stop the spread of the flames, and they stayed on the scene until midmorning to finish extinguishing the fire.

An entire neighborhood had to be evacuated, and power was lost because of burned utility poles and wires. Responders had to go on brand patrol in Pokagon State Park, to keep flying embers from starting a wildfire further downwind.

Despite all the challenges, no civilians were injured, and the only injury among emergency responders was a firefighter who hurt his foot when he stepped on a nail. A cat in one of the cottages reportedly died in the fire.

Heavy foliage and access problems challenged firefighters, who had only one narrow lane available to approach the scene on. Neighbors credited firefighters with keeping everything on that side of Lake James from burning; 7 other cottages suffered damage, but firefighters working in intense heat and clouds of embers protected the exposed buildings. Numerous other agencies were involved in the response.

A fire engine and crew were called out at 1:24 a.m. from the Albion, Avilla, and LaOtto Fire Departments, to join Kendallville firefighters and almost every fire department from Dakalb and Steuben counties. Fire units from Michigan and Ohio were also sent in. Two more counties became involved when Churubusco and Huntertown fire trucks were brought up on standby to the Avilla and LaOtto fire stations.

The last of the Noble County units didn't make the long trip back home until after 9 a.m.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC)
I claim the prize for spotting Mark...
Apr. 28th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
You were first! Um, there's not actually a prize ... :-(
Apr. 28th, 2009 07:34 am (UTC)
Spotting Mark is enough in itself... ;~P
Apr. 28th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
Well, it's not as exciting as finding Waldo!
Apr. 27th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
I see you! I win a prize right?
Apr. 28th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Well, years ago Marvel Comics used to give out something called a "No-Prize" to people who spotted mistakes in their comics ... I think you're up for one of those, now!
Apr. 28th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
I'll take it!
Apr. 28th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
I'll have to come up with a No-Prize certificate!
Apr. 28th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
Stupid property-owner dick. When you accidentally start a grass fire while playing with matches clearing your land, you should never get in the firemen's way. You should run off and hide in your house and let your friend Tracie down the street shoulder all the blame for the fire by herself. Memmmmmm-ries...
Apr. 28th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
I wonder who you could possible be talking about ...? ;-)

Well, to me running off and hiding makes a lot more sense than criticizing firefighters and taking an attitude when they show up to help, but that's just me.
Apr. 28th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
Next time the guy should have left controlled prairie burns to the experts--the firefighters!
Apr. 28th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
When we do controlled burns we look for advice from the other experts -- meteorologists. Get the wind and humidity level right, along with a good fire line and some knowledge of fire behavior, and the rest is easy.

These people know nothing of such things. :-(
Apr. 28th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
I know (in general, not by personal experience) how tough controlled burns can be. The farm I volunteer at owns property towards the forest preserves and closer to the residential neighborhoods that they burn every year to kill off invasive species. If that property suddenly turned wild, it's not just a farm going up in flames, but a forest preserve and some houses too. Plus, it's by a major road so I can only imagine passing cars getting caught in the fire. :(
Apr. 29th, 2009 05:33 am (UTC)
I've felt the heat from inside vehicles once or twice!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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