A training session for local firefighters turned into a learning experience of a very real kind north of Yankton Monday night.
Several rookie firefighters were training at a controlled burn of an old farm house about seven miles north of Yankton when a call came in at 7:14 p.m. about a real fire reported a short distance away.
“We had acquired a farm house about seven miles north of Yankton just off of (Highway 81),” said Yankton Assistant Fire Chief Larry Nickles. “We were training some of our new guys along with a couple of guys from Lesterville and Volin that were new; we were getting them certified in their safe training.”
While working on the house, a call came in on a real structure fire just one mile north of the training site.
“We had two trucks we were able to break loose right away and were able to be there within three minutes,” Nickles said.
Once they arrived on the scene, firefighters found an outbuilding on fire between two houses.
Nickles said one of the houses was starting to emit smoke and one interior window was broken by the heat.
Because of the fast response, firefighters were able to control the situation with extinguishers, and there was very little damage to the houses other than the broken window.
“If we had to come from (Yankton), which would have been a 12- to 14-minute response time, I’m relatively sure we would have had one house, if not the second one, burning,” Nickles said. “So, it was kind of a lucky day that we were just down the road when that happened.”
The cause of the fire was unknown as of Tuesday afternoon.
Nickles said the new firefighters who had been working on the controlled burn waited for instructions on what to do.
“We kind of had them stand by,” he said. “We grabbed some of our experienced guys to haul up with the trucks and went up to take care of it. (The trainees) stayed back and were on stand-by if we needed them.
“The biggest thing is, they were made to realize that it happens — you can have more than one incident going at the same time, and then you just got to start figuring how to split your equipment up and manpower up until you can get some help coming in.”
Nickles said Lesterville firefighters were called in for assistance since they were also part of the controlled burn.
Ultimately, the evening provided offered more insight for the new firefighters than was originally planned.
“They got to see that end of it,” Nickles said. “They are usually responding to a page. Now, they were on the scene and got to see us react. It was just another learning curve.”
No injuries were reported in the incident. A Yankton County ambulance crew also responded.
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