Crews battle big cotton bale fire in Harper County


HARPER COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Fire crews worked from two in the morning Monday until early evening getting a big cotton bale fire in Harper County under control.

They received the call of the fire near Anthony around 2 a.m. and found a massive fire. They found roughly 300 bales on fire. They worked it for quite a while and decided it was a losing battle.

“Called in heavy equipment to help us move around, and now we’re concerned with the winds coming up later on today with the high fire danger moving into the grass that’s around here,” said Capt. Branson Fawcett, Anthony Fire Department.

Fawcett says the went “defensive” and decided to hit the perimeter of the fire with water to keep it from spreading.

“And the cotton burns so hot and fast, that it’s just one of those impossible things to put out,” explained Lt. Justin Francis with the Anthony Fire Department.

Gary Feist is the General Manager of the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Coop. That Coop is about a mile and a half from Anthony.

“The night shift looked out here and saw it ablaze,” said Feist. “The yard man had to go inside to do some work and when he came out, it was ablaze.”

As Monday morning turned into Monday afternoon, the strategy for putting out the fire turning into letting it burn.

Feist and fire crews got a large, heavy cable and attached

Feist says it may have been a piece of equipment that overheated while the cotton was being baled, that started one of the bales smoldering.

“We don’t know for sure, but the coop has insurance,” said Feist. “Insurance will pay. Not all of it, I don’t expect it to. But it will take the burden off of us.”

Feist points out the Anthony fire department is volunteer, and he’s glad to see some from the community came out to help, just because.

“They’ve been a great help, a lot of neighbors,” said Feist. “Everybody’s brought equipment in and offered to help and there are people that showed up. Just neighbors that showed up.”

Feist says they are burying the ashes from the fire.

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