March 3rd sure was a pretty day outside, I was packing clothing and rockhunting tools, getting ready to leave early the next morning for southern Arkansas, to join up with 15 of my rockhound friends who were traveling in from all over the country…we were going back to the Blue Phantom Mine south of Mt Ida. We had been there in November and liked it so well, we decided to make it a two day dig there this time around. Unfortunately several of my other rockhound friends who live up in the northern Midwest and Northeastern US states, were unable to make it due to weather and other obligations. While I was packing, I listened to several fire departments responding to brush fires all over the place…Sullivan Firefighters were out on several calls when their tones dropped for what sounded like a trailer on fire…usually that indicates a mobile home trailer, but in this case, thankfully, it was a trailer loaded with large round hay bales on fire..on Hwy 185 next to the old Kelter Conservation Tower site. I drove down and parked in the tower driveway out of the way, and started walking up to the fire scene…several folks in vehicles stopped asked me what was on fire, and I let them know that at least seven bales were reported to be on fire and let them know they were going to be stopped for quite a while. Many had no clue how long it can take when dealing with round hay bales on fire, and I let several of them know there was an alternate route around the fire if they wanted to go back to the turn to Sleepy Hollow Road and take Hamilton Hollow Road around the fire. When I walked up to the trailer, that was no longer connected to the truck pulling it, blocking the north bound lane of 185, the pumper was blocking the southbound lane and Austin Mesey was doing his best to pull the bale closest to him apart with the hook so that Nick White could put more fire out with the hoseline……
…Nick then went back to the truck to check the water level in the tank, they were working with 1500 gallons on the pumper until a tanker arrived with more water…that`s another thing about putting out large round bales of hay, you either let them burn or you use a lot of water to extinguish the fire in the hay or straw…whichever method you choose, you are going to be there quite a while dealing with it. Chief Eric let me know that he had two tankers on the way from town, they had been out north of town on a brush fire call and had just been released from that call, and two brush units would be enroute to this call as well. I let him know that as I was driving out there, I noticed a huge cloud of white smoke further south of their location and let him know about it…later we found out it was actually down at the foot of the hill of Baker School Hill, in Potosi`s district, a controlled burn. Zach Martel took over the nozzle from Nick, as he packed up and started helping Austin hook the bales and pull them apart so water could be applied….
Chief Eric might have been working with limited manpower, but he had a good young crew here that worked well together as a team, and teamwork can make you or break you really fast….
Davey Sumpter showed up soon after with the first tanker and parked on a dirt drive right behind the pumper, and then a brush truck showed up as well…as I was walking back to my truck, about a dozen motorcycles approached and even moved over into the northbound lanes and passed everyone that were stopped and sitting in the southbound lanes waiting for the incident to clear up…I alerted Chief Eric that it appeared they wanted to come thru, and he immediately had the brush truck pull up and completely block the road access to them…they realized pretty quickly that they were not going to be able to go through there and turned around soon after and left the way they came. I let a few more drivers know they were going to be there awhile or they could take the alternate route around…many of them turned around and headed to the alternate route. When I passed through Meramac State Park, I noticed the motorcycle riders grouped up on the road to Cane`s Bottom…I wondered if they knew that was a dead end for them as well…but as Kellie Polesky used to say at work, not my circus and not my monkeys. 🙂