Le Mars Fire Chief David Schipper says the call went out about 1:30 PM, to a field fire at Lake Avenue and 100th Street in Plymouth County. He says 100th Street is the county line road and Sioux County’s name for it is 510th Street. He says Lake Avenue in Plymouth County becomes Grant Avenue in Sioux County. He says although the fire jumped the road into Sioux County a few times, the bulk of the fire was south of the county line.
Schipper says the fire appears to have started on the BNSF railroad right-of-way and then quickly entered a cornstalk field.
He says when they got there, the railroad right-of-way was on fire and it had just jumped into the field on the west side of the tracks. He says the strong winds took it west, north and some south. He says they had to protect a farm on the west side and two to the south. Conditions were a little difficult as the top layer is very dry, but there’s mud underneath. He says the big fire trucks had a hard time so they had to call for more help for other departments to bring in their grass rigs — which are typically pickups outfitted with a water tank and separate pump. Fire crews from Orange City, Maurice, Ireton, Merrill, and Sioux Center were called to help.
The chief reports a couple of fire trucks did get stuck and they were able to pull them out with the help of a farmer’s tractor.
He says the BNSF railroad was closed for at least an hour, due especially to the heavy smoke.
Schipper says the cause of the fire was determined to be a spark from a passing train.
He says fire fighters were on scene for about two hours and ten minutes.
Then just before 3:30 PM, the Orange City Fire Department was called to a structure fire behind the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office at 4363 Ironwood Avenue, northwest of Orange City. The Alton Fire Department was also called. We’ll have the details on that fire call as they become available.