Field Fire In Thomson - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Thomson Prairie Fire Threatened Homes

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All across the area Monday fire crews put their lives on the line to fight brush fires that got out of control.

The biggest occurred just south of Thomson, Illinois.

It was so big the smoke even showed up on TV-6's radar system.

There were 300 acres of tinder dry prairie, just waiting for a spark. Witnesses say the spark was all it took.

"The fire was spreading all over here, and it started way back over there, and some of the flames spiraled up like a tornado," says witness Zoe Schork.

Firefighters aren't sure what caused it to start, but high winds spread the flames across the prairie quickly. Threatening homes on Thomson's western edge.

"I thought like it was going to reach the houses, up there, but it was good they got it," says Schork.

"Luckily it didn't jump over in the evergreens, further on the east side, or it looks like it could have been a lot worse," says Thomson resident Rich Buckley.

He says the prairie is usually burned intentionally. The fire department says the US Fish and Wildlife service didn't get a chance to do that this year. It left 300 acres of fuel for a hungry fire.

"When the wind went down, the flames went down, and it came back up again, like back and forth," says Schork.

The wind kept flames reappearing. Brush trucks sprayed and re-sprayed hot spots. Fire crews kept spraying the tree line as they fought to keep the fire from spreading further. No houses were damaged, but three garages and some wooden fences were charred by flames. The fire even shut down a baseball game.

"The police and stuff came down the road, and talked to the umpires and made us stop the game," says West Carroll baseball player Ethan Mangler.

Those watching the fire's advance say it was a spectacular scene. Firefighters never want to see something like this again. A perfectly set up fire that could have ended so much worse.

"Many years ago they used to intentionally burn it, the Corps of Engineers, but this is probably not intentional," says Buckley.

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