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Dry Conditions Fuel Fires In Iowa

October 1, 2011, 10:00 PM by Hailey Higgins

Dry Conditions Fuel Fires In Iowa
HARTLEY, IA - The extremely dry and windy weather over the past couple of days has unfortunately provided ideal conditions for grass and other types of fires in KELOLAND.

O'Brien County, Iowa instituted a burn ban on Friday, but emergency crews are still dowsing flames from a massive grass fire on Thursday.

Fire crews are still busy fighting flare ups from a large grass fire on Thursday that engulfed this home and other properties.

"It was a fire storm, it is exactly the perfect way to describe it, a fire storm," Jenna Mumm said.

A charred hole in the ground is all that's left of Jim and Jenna Mumm's three bedroom farmhouse. It was the only house completely destroyed when high winds and dry fields combined to fuel several grass fires.

The Mumms had to run as the fire overtook their house, shop and car.

"You couldn't see. Sparks were flying through the air," Jenna said. "You probably couldn't see three feet in front of you."

"The smoke was thick and it was orange, the orange light from the fire," Jim said. "You could feel the heat."

In an ironic twist, the motel where the Mumms were staying also caught fire that night.

"The second story of it was on fire and there was a stairwell in the corner right where our room was and I look out and embers are falling, crackling, and people were running around," Jenna said.

The motel fire wasn't started by a grass fire, but because of the extremely dry conditions, O'Brien County is prohibiting anyone from starting a fire until further notice. They had eleven fire calls on Thursday alone.

"Hopefully this will make people a little more aware and give them a different perspective," Hartley Fire Chief Curt Stoltz said. "People definitely have a different perspective today than they had a week ago."

And as the Mumms hold what used to be their tire rims, they're trying to stay positive.

"It was pretty agonizing watching it go up but it's a fresh start, you know," Jenna said. "A fresh start, that's what we are looking at and we are going to make the best of it."

The fire chief expects the no-burn ban to be in effect through harvest season.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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