Fire at southwest Kansas cotton gin now under control


STEVENS COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Firefighters in Stevens County are still working to extinguish a fire at a cotton gin near the town of Moscow. That’s about 60 miles south-southwest of Garden City.

“It was pretty extensive,” said Rodney Kelling, the Stevens County Emergency Services coordinator. “We were dealing with 40, 45 mile-an-hour winds. It was pushing embers and hot spots real fast.”

Within three minutes, the fire grew so large it required mutual aid from seven Kansas counties and a county in Oklahoma to fight the blaze.

“None of the building, none of the equipment got damaged or anything,” said Jerry Stuckey with the Northwest Cotton Growers Co-Op. The fire department was able to keep water and everything, so we had no damage to any of our equipment.”

What did burn, however, was the equivalent of about 4,000 bales of cotton.

“It is a lot, but it could have been worse if we didn’t have the volunteer fire department, all the surrounding communities come together to help save our gin,” said Mindy Gillespie of the Northwest Cotton Growers Co-Op. “It could have been a lot worse than it was, so we’re grateful for the community that we live in that support us.”

That support included food for the fire crews and the cotton gin employees.  The Pizza Hut in Hugoton provided 17 pizzas.

“Oh, I love it,” aid Kathy Auwarter with the Hugoton Pizza Hut. “Any time anything goes on in the community where something like that happens, we’re right there to make sure we lend a hand any way we can.”

However, the region in western Kansas is still at risk for more fires like the one at the Moscow cotton gin.

“We’ve had plenty of rain this past year, so all of the vegetation is grown up really high right now so it wouldn’t take much to get a real good fire going,” Kelling said.

Crews say they have the fire fully contained and hope to have it extinguished by Tuesday.

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