CHASE — An apparent electrical fire triggered a blaze that destroyed a three-story home and adjacent garage Wednesday evening. The home and possessions of Shannon McEachern were declared a total loss.
Ed Feil, Rice County fire chief, reported three or four people escaped the fire. Feil estimated damage at several thousand dollars.
“The owners believe there was an electrical problem going to the air conditioners that might’ve have triggered the fire,” Feil said. “They saw the fire in the house and tried to extinguish the fire and a window broke out, which added oxygen to the fire. I verified at least three people who escaped the fire. There was a loss of property and possessions.”
The Chase fire was reported at 6:28 p.m. and more than 25 firefighters from Rice County and Ellinwood worked the scene until 12:45 a.m. Thursday. Feil and several other firefighters left a prairie fire near Little River to fight the blaze in Chase.
“Some of the firefighters had worked four or five hours during the heat of the day and moved to Chase to fight that fire,” he said.
“Whenever it’s over 100 degrees, it’s horrendous firefighting conditions. The Little River fire needed all the assistance they could get.”
Feil made sure the western half of Rice County was under fire protection during the Little River fire and his instincts proved accurate. Any time a structure fire is reported, Rice County calls out three stations to respond.
“We left some fire pumpers in town and surrounding stations were advised we were in the eastern part of Rice County,” Feil said. “Sure enough, they were needed. Everyone was quick to respond. You always want a truck and available firefighters to operate the equipment.”
Rice County has been under a controlled burn ban for several weeks because fire conditions remain extremely high.
Feil said the 100-degree heat makes it dangerous for firefighters to work for extended periods because of the threat of heat exhaustion.
“Rice County EMS treated a few guys for signs of heat exhaustion,”
Feil said. “Rice County EMS personnel did a great job doing rehab and checking everyone. You have to get everyone physically checked because you can get overcome with heat stress. We talk about it al the time during the summer. You have to try to keep half your people ready because the other group is getting rehabbed and refreshed.”
The Little River prairie fire reported at 12:55 p.m. Wednesday near Avenue I destroyed Marilee Beaver’s home, 2490 Avenue I. A barn built in 1911 and a shed owned by Bruce Buchanan, 2520 Ave. I, were destroyed in the fire along with several square miles of grassland.
Little River Fire Chief Russell Stephenson said the fire was triggered by a hay bailer that ignited some nearby grass. Fourteen fire departments and 100 firefighters responded, including McPherson, Lyons, Ellsworth, Kanopolis, Moundridge and Windom. Stephenson said two people were treated for heat-related issues and were transported to a local hospital. Fire crews worked the site until midnight.
“We couldn’t have put that fire out without the extra help,”
Stephenson said. “Everyone was great help.”