Lightning, and apparently grass fires, can strike the same spot more than once.

Lightning, and apparently grass fires, can strike the same spot more than once.

On Wednesday afternoon Hannibal firefighters found themselves battling a grass fire in an area that Capt. Tim Daugherty said had burned last summer.

Wednesday’s blaze, which consumed less than a half-acre of grass, was located just south of Bear Creek, near the site of the city’s old sewage plant.

The alarm came via Marion County 911 at 5:30 p.m. when it was reported that white smoke could be seen coming from the area. The first job was to evaluate the location of the smoke, and to see how best to access the site.

Heard on the scanner:

 “Can we get an engine in there?”

 “Go down to South Main and there’s a red gate. You may have to cut the lock. Have Sean (McHargue, firefighter) walk ahead so you don’t get the engine buried in there.”

The lock was cut so firefighters could gain access to the fire scene.

The first two firefighters on the scene were Engineer Ryan Sparks and Capt. Tim Daugherty, who made a quick assessment of the flames.

“It’s got nowhere to go. It’s going toward water,” said Sparks, referring to nearby Bear Creek.

A brisk south breeze helped keep the flames from spreading south before firefighters could attack it.

A short time later Sparks noted seeing “red” through the nearby dense brush, which he knew meant a fire engine would soon arrive at the site. Daugherty guided the truck into position.

Using a hose from the truck and a hand-held water can, the four Hannibal firefighters quickly had the flames subdued.

The firefighters’ work attracted a small crowd as people walked over a railroad bridge to reach the site. One young man was busying taking photos with his phone. Others were content to sit on nearby railroad tracks and watching, at least until the blast of an approaching train’s horn was heard.

“With this wind it’s not a good day to have a fire,” said one onlooker.

Firefighters were leaving the scene within 30 minutes. Engine One left the fire scene at 5:56 p.m. The Command Truck left five minutes later.


(Mary Lou Montgomery contributed to this story.)