At Least 17 Departments Fight Howard County Grass Fire


At least 17 departments spent Wednesday afternoon fighting a large grass fire north of St. Paul.

The fire started north of Cushing, where St. Paul Fire officials say they fought a smaller fire on Monday. They believe that blaze rekindled and burned toward the north with strong southern winds pushing it.

Howard County Emergency Management Director Michelle Woiltalewicz says at least ten miles of pasture burned and numerous cattle were killed.

Fire officials on the scene believed the fire had been at least three miles wide and 14 miles long, burning all the way to Highway 22 and jumping the highway. Hwy 22 was closed by Howard County deputies for a time.

High winds made getting ahead of the fire difficult, and blowing smoke and ash reduced visibility.

"We called all of Howard County for mutual aid and then our emergency management -- Michelle Woiltalewicz -- she started calling Region 26 to get their departments up north and east of here involved to try and get ahead of it to stop it," said St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Shon Treat.

Treat says at least two structures burned, but wasn't sure if they were homes or outbuildings.

There was also a lot of assistance from farmers with discs, people moving cattle to other areas, and local ag company water trucks.

Fire officials say the community effort in controlling the blaze will likely carry on through Wednesday night.

The American Red Cross was in the area assisting firefighters.