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Pasture fire threatens Watchorn Corner oil tanks

Staff writer

A controlled burn at the Don Rosine residence just north and east of Watchorn Corner on 60th Rd. east of Peabody began as it should have Saturday, under sunny skies with barely a hint of a breeze.

However, the wind picked up shortly after the fire was started. Before long fire fighters from three communities were converging on the area to fight a good-sized pasture fire that threatened to jump several county roads and keep on moving.

“Cheryl Rosine told me they had a permit, the weather was calm, and Aaron, her son, had a couple of other guys helping him keep it in check,” Peabody Fire Chief Mark Penner said. “It was one of those freaky things — they had just gotten it started and the wind picked up a little, quickly sending it out of control of the three guys trying to contain it. Of course, we have had little moisture and the pasture is dry. So with unexpected wind, conditions were just right. It got away from them pretty quick.”

Rosine’s farm is on 70th Rd. east of Timber Rd. and north of 60th Rd. The fire spread from the Rosine pasture to the junction of 60th and Timber Rds., locally known as Watchorn Corner.

“It quickly consumed the grass on pastures belonging to Rosines, Fred Berns, and DeForests,” Penner said. “There were no cattle out there, but we were concerned when the fire began moving to the area where oil is pumped and stored. The ground surrounding oil pumps and storage tanks is not burned annually like the rest of the pasture area to clear out grass and weeds, so there was a lot of unburned fuel available in that area including shrubs and red cedars.

“And, of course there is no water available out there,” he added. “It was more than a bit dicey when we realized pumps and tanks could be threatened.”

When the initial call came in, all available personnel left Peabody. After Peabody fire fighters arrived, Penner paged for assistance from Florence and Burns fire fighters as well as additional water tankers.

“Luckily the wind tapered off and eventually we were able to get ahead of the fire,” Penner said. “We scrambled for a bit, but everyone did his job and we got it out.”

Penner said the pasture fire was the second of the day for Peabody fire fighters. Crews were called out at about 7:30 a.m. for a fire in an unoccupied motor home at Second and Spruce Sts. There was no loss estimate available.

Last modified Feb. 25, 2016

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