Road turns into gauntlet of flames and smoke
Flames spring up in ditches and fields for seven miles along Indigo Rd.
At least seven separate fires were burning simultaneously in ditches and fields along the west side of Indigo Rd. on April 4, with one threatening a home near 140th Rd.
As Hillsboro firefighters were scrambling to the station after multiple reports of fires were received at 1:47 p.m., Hillsboro police officer John Huebert headed south on Indigo Rd. to determine where the blazes were.
He encountered the first, a ditch fire, near 180th Rd. and continued south, reporting that ditch fires were burning primarily next to plowed fields and green vegetation. He discovered a large brush fire that threatened to jump the road near 110th Rd.
Peabody firefighters were dispatched to fight the fire at 110th Rd. while Hillsboro firefighters tackled the blazes to the north. A Hillsboro firefighter reported seeing “four ditch fires in the first four miles south of town.”
After extinguishing a blaze that posed a threat to a house, Hillsboro firefighters concentrated their efforts on the largest conflagration, a grass fire near 140th Rd.
“That was the largest fire and it was headed toward a shelter belt,” Hillsboro Chief Ben Steketee said. “That fire was running like crazy. We wanted to make an effort to stop it before it got there.”
The fires were virtually extinguished by 3:30 p.m., something Steketee credited to having two departments collaborating.
“(Peabody) kind of managed everything from 140th Rd. to the south, and we took everything to the north,” Steketee said. “They were so helpful.”
Steketee didn’t have any answer as to how the fires started, but said something like a chain dangling on the pavement could create random sparks
Hillsboro firefighters went out twice that evening and once Thursday to check for hot spots and extinguish smoldering embers.
Last modified April 12, 2018