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Tuttle firefighters put out a grass fire last week near Amber. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)
By Jeff Harrison
Managing Editor

A Tuttle Fire Department training exercise in a wheat field near Amber went sour Thursday, with officials blaming the large wildfire on the “change in wind direction”.

Fire chief Bruce Anthony said the crews successfully conducted a few exercises when the wind kicked up from the south and caused the controlled burn to spread into a neighboring field. As they tried to douse the fire, a mechanical pump broke and the engine ran out of water, Anthony said.

“It was a series of unfortunate events that caused the fire,” Anthony said. “We were getting some good training in before that and had put out a few fires. Then the wind blew it over the fence line and we had the pump break and ran out of water.”

The wildfire started about 12:40 p.m. and burned about 80 acres of grass field. Crews were able to contain the blaze about 2:40 p.m. and stayed on scene until about 6 p.m. The fire occurred near the intersection of  E. County Road 1270 and N. County Road 2850.

Firefighters from Blanchard, Amber, Pocasset, Bridge Creek and Friend assisted in the effort. Grady County District One also brought in a mechanical grader to help with the fire.

Anthony said the crews had lit and extinguished three grass fires before the fire spread to the neighboring field. He said the wind shift caused the fire to jump the 40-foot fire break that lined the perimeter of the wheat field. The mechanical problem and water shortage forced the department to call for assistance.

“In the absence of the mechanical failure,  we’re fine,” Anthony said. “That’s when we got behind the curve. We had the fire about put out a second time when we exhausted the water supply and had to call for additional help.”

The training exercise was the second in the past week for the Tuttle Fire Department. On July 13, they conducted a controlled burn on a house on the corner of S.W. 5th and Oak streets.

Anthony said they do not usually conduct wildfire training exercises, but believed the 80-acre wheat field provided a unique opportunity.  

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