January 24, 2015
9:48 pm
RAIN:  7AM to 7AM:  .00"    Month:  3.61”    Year:  3.61"   |  TEMPS:  High: 46  Low: 28

Firefighters battled blazes; large fire threatened homes

     Brush and woods fires fanned by winds with gusts in excess of 40 miles per hour strained the resources of Twin Lakes Area firefighters Thursday who battled blazes in multiple locations. The buffeting winds spread the flames as firefighters fought to contain the fires. Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass, at the scene of a major fire off Sheid Road along the White River Thursday night, said at one time during the day he monitored scanner radio traffic of eight different fires being fought by area fire departments.
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     Pendergrass said the fires ranged from Midway, Clarkridge, Gamaliel and Norfork. Damage was reported when a brush fire ignited a house on Florence Drive off Cranfield Road, and the fire off Sheid Road burned 150 to 200 acres and claimed two hay barns, farm equipment at the Sheid Farm and an estimated 400 to 500 bales of hay before firefighters were able to get it under control about 7 o'clock Thursday night. Law enforcement officials announced an evacuation of residences along the White River south of Norfork. County Office of Emergency Management Director Jim Sierzchula set up an incident command center at the Norfork High School and sheriff's deputies and State Police went door-to-door to alert residents but most had already left the area.
     Numerous fires apparently started from controlled burns that got out of control due to the strong winds. A large fire near Clarkridge was started when a landowner's attempt to burn off his pasture got out of control. The Baxter County Sheriff's Department says the fire along Sheid Road started when a man burned a stump and the fire later rekindled and spread. The Norfork Fire Department was paged out about 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon.
     Scanner traffic told the story as firefighters and others attempted to control the fire near Norfork.
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     Veteran firefighter and Norfork Fire Chief Frankie Baker said the fire along the White River was one of the worst he's ever battled.
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     Baker said one Norfork firefighter had to be given oxygen for smoke inhalation and exhaustion after the fire nearly got him.
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     Firefighters were able to contain the fire after the Arkansas State Forestry Commission arrived with a bulldozer. Baker said close to 100 firefighters from Norfork, the Forestry Commission, Tracy Ferry, Salesville, Lone Rock, Rodney and Jordan assisted in fighting the blaze.
     Property owner Richard Sheid said he was thankful the firefighters were able to contain the fire which destroyed a barn that had been built by his father.
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     Fire officials warned the public of the dangers of doing any outdoor burning during windy conditions.   



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