By Juno Ogle
Hays Daily News – March 22, 2017
Fires south of Ellis burned nearly 60 acres and came near two dwellings Monday and Tuesday.
Ellis County Rural Fire units initially were paged to a grass fire at 4:15 p.m. Monday in the 900 block of Ellis Avenue, approximately 8 miles south of Ellis.
The fire initially started in pasture and burned 30 to 40 acres on the east side of the blacktop road, said Tom Tholen, chief of Ellis County Rural Fire Company 4. It was later determined it ignited from a pickup driving over grass while a farmer was checking fence, Tholen said.
The fire jumped the road and burned approximately 10 acres of wheat stubble, he said, and into trees in a low-lying creek area.
The fire line skirted a house by about 200 to 300 yards, Tholen said.
“It was close to properties. We were able to bring it under control before it reached that point,” he said.
Roger Kingsley said his home on the west side of the blacktop was one of the houses threatened. He said if firefighters had arrived five or 10 minutes later, the flames might have taken his and another home.
“I just want to say to them thank you,” he said. “We got lucky. They were able to stop it.”
A total of 40 to 50 acres burned in that fire. Crews were on the scene until about 10 p.m. Units from Ellis, Hays, Catharine, Victoria and Schoenchen responded, with one unit from Trego County offering mutual aid. An Ellis County ambulance was on standby but was not needed, Tholen said.
Some of the crews responding to that fire were pulled at about 6:45 p.m. for a report of another fire approximately 7 miles north and west at 110th Avenue and Vineyard Road.
“We found approximately 5 to 10 acres on fire at that location,” Tholen said.
Crews were on that scene until about 10 p.m. as well. The cause was determined to be an oilfield electrical malfunction.
At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, crews were recalled to the 900 block of Ellis Avenue when that fire rekindled.
The wind-driven flames burned another 8 to 10 acres, with firefighters staying on scene until noon, Tholen said. Crews from Ellis, Hays and Catharine responded.
Tholen said area farmers assisted the county crews by bringing in additional water, and one disced around the Ellis Avenue fire Monday to help keep the flames from spreading.