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Practice drill turns into actual fire

Strong winds and an equipment malfunction turned a Leaf River Fire Department practice drill Oct. 21 into a real fire.

Leaf River Fire Chief Steve Shelton said the pump failed to work on the fire truck that was supposed to supply the water for a practice burn of a corncrib at 1940 W. Lightsville Rd., leaving firefighters high and dry.

The corncrib had already been set on fire, and firefighters were in place on an aerial ladder, he said, when the malfunction was discovered.

Strong west winds drove the flames which ignited two nearby buildings.

“That’s when I said we need some help here and we called for mutual aid,” Shelton said.

Firefighters from the four departments taking part in the drill got the fire under control using grass rigs and fire extinguishers, he said.

“By the time mutual aid arrived, the fire was out,” Shelton said. “I couldn’t be prouder of our personnel. The guys did what they had to do, what we’ve been training to do.”

In the end all that was destroyed was the corncrib that they intended to burn in the first place.

Along with Leaf River, the Blackhawk, German Valley, and Stillman Valley Fire Departments took part in the practice exercise at an abandoned farm approximately three miles northeast of Leaf River.

Shelton said the property is owned by DeLong Company, Inc., of Winnebago.

Company officials gave the Leaf River Fire Department the farmstead for practice, Shelton said, and they had already burned four buildings there.

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