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      Seven Departments Fight Merrick County Grass Fire

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      By 4:30 p.m. the fire was mostly under control, but fire crews expected to remain on scene for the rest of the day and part of the night to make sure hotspots in trees and hay bales don't flare up.

      Merrick County Sheriff Kevin Campbell says the fire started just north of Highway 92, a few miles north of Archer. A passing driver called in the smoke around 12:30 p.m. Officials believe sparks from a broken semi axle or something similar ignited the grass.

      Strong winds pushed the flames near a home, but firefighters were able to keep it away.

      The flames did jump a county road and damage property at a second farm, but considering the hot, dry conditions, officials say they feel lucky.

      "We had some horses, about 30 young horses, that are going to have some smoke inhalation, some minor things like that, but no one was hurt, no homes were lost – there was a home that was very close," says Campbell.

      Palmer crews were the first called to the fire. Central City, Chapman, Clarks, Fullerton, St. Libory, and St. Paul brought trucks, man-power, and water to help as well.

      Merrick and Howard County deputies shut down Highway 92 for more than an hour while fire trucks and farmers with discs worked on getting ahead of the fire.

      Campbell says there's no estimate on acres burned yet, but from beginning to end the damage spread about 1.5 miles.

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