By Gary Demuth
Salina Journal – March 20, 2017
Sparks from a controlled burn caused a fire that extensively damaged the roof and upper story of a rural Assaria home Saturday afternoon.
The fire in the 4000 block of South Simpson Road was reported about 2:30 p.m. Saturday by the home’s owners, Don and Shirley Sundgren. Firefighters from Rural Fire Districts 1 and 2 contained the blaze by about 4 p.m.
Damage to the home has not been determined, but Shirley Sundgren said their shake shingle roof on the west end of the home was destroyed, and smoke and water damage occurred in the upper floor of the two-story house.
The blaze began after sparks from a controlled burn started earlier in the day by the Sundgrens in a field south of the home jumped from a pine tree in their yard to the roof of the house, Shirley Sundgren said. Rural firefighters were challenged to get a ladder in place to gain access to the roof, which stood about 35 feet high above a sharply sloped yard.
Shirley Sundgren said she and her husband — and their pet cat — were outside when the fire began, and there were no injuries.
“We burn to protect our house and look what happens,” she said.
The Sundgren property was one of a number of out-of-control field and pasture fires fought by rural firefighters in the area Saturday, which was being blamed on wind and dry conditions in the area.
Conditions won’t be any better today.
Very high to extreme grassland fire danger is expected to affect the entire region this afternoon, according to a hazardous weather outlook report issued Saturday by the National Weather Service. The service recommends that any outdoor burning should be avoided.