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Cutter escapes combine fire
$300,000 combine destroyed
stafford fire photo
Courtesy Photo The $300,000 combine of Roland Svartoien of Freeman, N.D. is a total loss following a Stafford County fire Wednesday.

By Jim Misunas

STAFFORD COUNTY — An overheated combine caused a fire which destroyed the combine and ruined 30 acres of uncut wheat Wednesday morning.
Stafford County firefighters were dispatched at 11 a.m. Wednesday near the intersection of SE 30th Avenue and SE 30th Street in Stafford County, six miles south and three miles east of St. John.
Nick Lauffer, Stafford County assistant fire chief, reported custom-cutter Roland Svartoien, 54, of Freeman, S.D., escaped injury when he abandoned his Case combine after it started on fire. Lauffer said the loss was estimated at $300,000 for the combine and $70,000 for the header. The land is farmed by Larry Tanner.
When firefighters from St. John and Stafford arrived on the scene, the Case combine was already totally engulfed in flames.
Firefighters fought the fire that was burning an uncut wheat field and eventually cooled down the smoldering combine.
Another unrelated fire in Stafford County recently saw a happy ending.
Three young kittens used one of their nine lives when they were rescued by St. John firefighters at the Kurt and Roann farmstead, 460 NW 10th Avenue, 11 miles north of St. John.
A fire got out of control in a pile of timber and debris from the April tornado damage cleanup. Three young kittens were barely rescued from the pile of burning timber by St. John firefighters.
“I got my first life save. I dug in there and saved the three kittens,” Lauffer said. “My ears and arms were burning, so it was pretty hot. Those kittens were pretty lucky to be alive.”