Crews from 4 departments fight grass fire by Pennock, Minn.
PENNOCK -- A cigarette thrown from a vehicle was the likely cause of a fire that tore across two miles of grassland Thursday north of Pennock.
Fire crews from Pennock, Willmar, Kerkhoven and Sunburg battled the blaze, which was reported at noon, for at least eight hours.
The fire torched grass, trees and cattails -- most of it located in a federal waterfowl production area.
Pennock Fire Chief Jeff Arends said the fire started along Kandiyohi County Road 1 and burned nearly an entire section of land.
Newly seeded cropland was not affected.
He suspected a cigarette thrown into the tall, dry grass started the fire that quickly spread to the west, fanned by winds that grew with intensity in the late afternoon hours.
Thanks to mutual aid, crews had six grass rigs and three all-terrain vehicles, along with the regular pumpers and fire trucks to beat down the stubborn fire.
Arends said low wetlands filled with cattails and trees made the fire difficult to attack.
"It was hard to fight it with the wind and the cattails in the water," said Arends, as he surveyed the fire and provided direction to crews and vehicles that were refueling with water.
Some of the trucks got water from a nearby slough.
By 7 p.m. the fire was still advancing through a strip of trees and cattails but was mostly contained.
At that point Arends said he expected crews would be on the scene for several more hours.
A lack of rainfall has made conditions ripe for grassfires.
Rain that's forecast for the weekend could help relieve that danger.