A grass fire last Tuesday, Sept. 18, burned nearly 80 acres and cost the Killdeer Fire Department a pumper truck.
Photos by Mabel Hixson
Story by JENNIFER KOCHER
Dunn County Herald
Posted Sept. 28, 2012
A grass fire last Tuesday, Sept. 18, burned nearly 80 acres and cost the Killdeer Fire Department a pumper truck. The fire, which was triggered by a hot rim that spun off a dually trailer, began early Tuesday morning roughly six miles north of Killdeer on the west side of Highway 22 near the Mittelstadt homestead, which the volunteers, along with a crew of neighbors, were able to save.
According to Killdeer Fire Chief Chuck Muscha, four fire fighters answered the call at roughly 1:50 a.m. Muscha, along with firefighter Kevin Candrian, arrived first on the scene in truck 801, which is the oldest pumping unit in their fleet. According to Candrian, the truck was making “funny noises” as they neared the fire, and later died when forty mile winds doubled the speed of the fire. Muscha made the call to move the truck to get a better strategic position on the fire, which was then within a quarter mile of the Mittelstadt home.
Candrian tried repeatedly to start the engine, but when it failed to turn over, he ultimately fled the truck upon Muscha’s urging.
“I told him it’s time to go,” Muscha said. “We gotta move.”
Candrian received second-degree burns on his left arm and side of his face, which he credits to his lack of proper fire-fighting attire.
“I didn’t have my jacket on,” he said. “I always do but I didn’t this time.”
The pumper truck was a 1979 C-70 Chevrolet pumping unit that the department had received from the last oil boom in the early 1980s.
“It came in with a boom and out with one,” said Muscha.
According to Muscha, plans were already in place to order a replacement, thanks to funding from the North Dakota Land Department’s Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office and Dunn County Commissioners. Muscha estimates the new truck will cost around $250,000.
In the end, Muscha brings his attention back to the team of volunteer firefighters, emergency responders and conscientious neighbors who pulled together to help save a home.
“These people are heroes,” he said.
Abnormally dry weather conditions continue to pose very high to extreme fire dangers for western and central North Dakota and the National Weather Service in Bismarck continues its issue of a red flag warning in Dunn County.