Firefighters reflect on last week’s grass fire, offer thanks

Hays Post – March 15, 2017


Seven members of the Hutchinson Fire Department took time to answer questions from the media regarding last week’s fire. The stories they told showed why this fire was one of the most dangerous and hard to contain fires in recent memory.


Craig Rothe, Bryan Goble, Danny Chambers, David Goering, Dalton Black  Ernie Young and Troy Mueller told of a fire that was more intense and fast moving than some of them had ever seen. At one point the fire was estimated to be moving at more than 20 miles per hour.


Many told of how at times things were moving so fast that tough decisions had to be made regarding the protection of homes and buildings. Some instances the homes survived much to their surprise, others they had to watch as they burned with no hope of saving them.


Rothe recalled being trapped in a long driveway of a home and turning to one of his crew who had been with the department for six months, and asked him if he was scared?


The fireman replied “yes” to which Rothe responded “so am I,” his comments made to let the firefighter know the gravity of the situation.


Young told of getting out of his truck to protect a structure then getting back into the truck and feeling heat inside the vehicle. He looked down to find two large embers sitting in his lap. He also recalled being so involved in the fire that he forgot to put his helmet on.


The group also took time to express thanks for all of the outside agencies that helped put out the fire. Many from outside Hutchinson said they will take the experience back with them to their stations to use as training if they have to face such a situation again. They also commented to local fireman how tough it was to fight the fire with the soft sand and the brush that is unique to the Sandhills area.


Most of all they wanted to thank those that have thanked and supported them over the past week.