Evidence points to fireworks as the cause of a fire that damaged property and killed trees Tuesday afternoon in the southeast part of Great Bend.
Battalion Chief Rick Robison at the Great Bend Fire Department said he found some fireworks, and people who live in homes located north of the railroad tracks near Fifth and Plum said they heard fireworks shorty before the fire was reported around 2:30 p.m.
What started as a grass fire quickly spread to trees, fence posts and a shed located inside a fenced neighborhood behind the Baltzell Motel. The fire was south of 10th St. businesses, from behind Dianne’s Diner in the 800 block to behind Central Power Systems Service in the 600 block. Firefighters used a brush truck to get to the flames, which leapt 20 to 30 feet in the air at times, fueled by gusts of 30 mph wind.
The eaves and roofs of two garages were on fire, and two truck trailers used for storage were about the burn when they arrived. Robison said the garages were saved, but not before they sustained an estimated $5,000 in damage. The trailers were also saved.
“A lot of large trees were on fire at the base,” Robison said, adding about 100 evergreen trees were on fire.
As firefighters struggled to douse the flames and move earth to keep the fire contained, residents of houses to the north of the fire began wetting their landscaping and homes from garden hoses to protect them should the winds blow the flames closer.
“The fire came up very quickly,” said Donna Smith, one of the residents in the neighborhood. Her daughter was busy spraying water on the roof of their home.
Central Power Systems and Services personnel moved equipment parked in their west parking lot as the fire consumed waist high weeds. An overhead hoist stored on the lot was also damaged.
Although the fire was contained by 4:30 p.m., a number of hot spots kept firefighters at the scene for another hour, and they planned to check on it later in the evening.
“We kept the firemen hydrated,” Robison said, noting no injuries were reported. As things were winding down, GBFD sent an ambulance to an injury accident east of Barton Community College on NE 30 Road.