By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
EAGLE LAKE — Two ditch fires east of Eagle Lake, possibly started by sparks from a passing truck, kept four area fire departments busy Thursday.
The fires were ignited about a mile apart from each other in the ditch south of Highway 14 between the Highway 60 intersection and Smith’s Mill.
The fire closest to Eagle Lake was put out quickly. The second fire, which started near the Jeremy Hanks residence and his JDH Hair Design business, jumped the railroad tracks and spread quickly through a dry marsh.
“The wind just pushed it over the tracks, then it was history from there,” said Janesville Fire Chief Randy Cummins.
His department was called to the fires at about 10:15 a.m. Cummins called for backup from the fire departments in Eagle Lake, Madison Lake and St. Clair shortly after arriving at the fires. He said all of the departments have been busy responding to grass and field fires recently. Everything is dry and fall winds spread fires quickly after they start.
Thursday’s fire burned several acres south of the highway before it was contained around noon. If the fire hadn’t been stopped, it could have threatened buildings on properties to the south, Cummins said. The fire was kept to the west of the buildings and some animals on Hanks’ property.
Firefighters remained at the scene putting out hot spots Thursday afternoon.
A little caution would help, Cummins said.
“We were called out to a ditch fire at about 2:30 a.m.,” Cummins said. “People should be careful, especially with cigarettes. Don’t throw cigarettes out the window. I know that was the cause of a couple of our fires.”