Sheldon, Iowa — A sound that has become all too familiar to area residents in recent days once again split the air in Sheldon Monday afternoon. The sound of sirens as firefighters responded to yet another controlled open burn that had gotten out of control.
Shortly after 3:45 Monday afternoon the Sheldon Fire Company was called out for a ditch fire that had gotten out of control near 5155 330th Street, or about 3 miles east-southeast of Sheldon.
According to Sheldon Assistant Fire Chief Brad Hindt, a farmer had started burning his ditch, but due to strong winds the fire had jumped the gravel road and spread into the north ditch. National Weather Service readings indicate that winds in the area at the time of the fire were gusty, with gusts well over 30-miles-per-hour.
Hindt says firefighters found ditches on both sides of the road on fire when they arrived on scene. He says the farmer on the south side of the road made a pass with a disc and the farmer on the north side, who was working his field, made a pass to help stop the fire from spreading farther north.
Hindt tells KIWA that firefighters quickly knocked down both ditch fires. He says a MidAmerican Energy power pole was damaged in the blaze.
Once again, area fire departments are cautioning residents against open burning during these windy days. Northwest Iowa is under what the U.S. Drought Monitor calls a “Severe Drought”, meaning that ground vegetation is extremely dry and easily combustible. Combine the drought conditions with the strong winds and a controlled small fire can quickly become an out-of-control BIG fire. These out-of-control fires can be very dangerous. Sunday afternoon an eastern Iowa woman, who had been tending a controlled burn, died after that fire got out of control.
Photo courtesy of the Sheldon Fire Company