At approximately 1:34 p.m. Ford County Fire and EMS and Dodge City Fire Department responded to a grass fire that was raging across a property on Highway 50 just across Boot Hill Casino and Resort.
While no injuries were reported, garages on the property did suffer some fire damage but are otherwise still safe to use.
Flames left ash on both sides of Highway 50, and burnt several trees on the property as fire crews mobilized to contain the fire from reaching many of the potential explosive material such as vehicles, as well as to prevent it from reaching the casino.
The fire also killed the electricity on the property.
According to property owner, Tony Rehmert, stray sparks from a welding torch were caught in the wind and started the fire.
Fire and EMS Chief Rob Boyd corroborated that was likely the suspect of the fire.
“I saw the smoke from the station and I was just going back to work, looked in my mirror and saw it,” said Boyd. “I turned around and called dispatch to see if they got a call about a fire and they told me they were paging it right now.”
Boyd said that the flames were up to 40 feet when he arrived.
Smoke could clearly be seen from within the Dodge City limits, even after majority of the fire was put out.
Despite that several hot spots that still carried heat and dangerous potential for combustion, warranted an impressive number of fire personnel to remain active into the evening to make sure the area was cooled down.
Boyd anticipated the wind to change direction in the evening that could have endangered residential areas had fire personnel not been so thorough. Thankfully, they were.
As soon as Fire and EMS arrived the fire had already jumped the highway and Quick Brush trucks from both Fire and EMS and DCFD responded immediately to keep it away from the casino.
The wide response came from every fire station in Ford County including off-duty firemen, Ford County Sheriff Department and Dodge City Police Department for crowd and traffic control, Victory Electric to restore power and additional response even from Minneola Fire Department.
“I called them [Minneola Fire Department], we work really well together, they have a lot of resources so we use them a lot and they use us a lot,” said Boyd. “Communication is the key to everything we do.
“Eventually, we weren’t sure how big the fire was going to get but once we knew we were going to need more resources it didn’t take but a second to get Minneola Fire Department called.”
Boyd estimated that by the end of the operation tens of thousands of gallons of water would be used and that there were close to 30 response and utility vehicles present.