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10 departments called to fire near Livingston
Controlled burn gets out of control due to high winds
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A controlled burn in the Town of Clifton was accelerated by winds to 45 mph, forcing seven fire departments to be called. - photo by Photo by Robert Callahan

TOWN OF CLIFTON — Seven fire departments, two EMS units, the state Department of Natural Resources and Grant County Emergency Management joined forces to fight a grass fire west of Livingston Friday afternoon.

Warren and Sharon Gaskill of Black Earth, and Brent Haglund of Madison were burning brush on property owned by Glenn Chambliss of Madison at 1702 County E.

“The fire got into some very dry reed canary grass,” said Warren Gaskill. “The wind shifted in a way we had not anticipated, and away it went. Try as we might, we couldn’t get it back together again.”

The controlled burn was accelerated by winds of 25 to 45 mph.

“It was a horrible thing,” said Gaskill. “It was horrible having it get away. We were frantic. What an amazing thing to suddenly see all those people.”

The Livingston Fire Department first responded around 4 p.m., but “they saw how big it was, and that’s when they started to call for all mutual aid,” said Livingston Fire Chief Charles Hrubes.

Firefighters from Montfort, Stitzer, Cobb and Rewey joined Livingston. The Lancaster and Platteville fire departments provided utility task vehicles, as did Grant County Emergency Management.

The DNR offered manpower and equipment, including a bulldozer and plane for viewing the extent of the fire. Grant County Emergency Management Director Steve Braun said the plane was already in the area on fire patrol.

“It was in an area that was kind of hard to get to, which made it hard for everybody,” said Hrubes. Fighting the
fire required “pretty much backpacking with ATVs.”

Montfort and Fennimore EMS units provided medical standby, while the Grant County Sheriff’s Department assisted as well.

Braun said emergency responders were able to contain the fire to 28 acres.

“It was very coordinated,” said Gaskill. “No one was blaming or anything else. It was a great community effort.

“One can’t be too cautious. I am forever grateful that the emergency responders were there.”

“Anytime you get like that and you get mutual aid, it’s really awesome,” said Hrubes.