About 30 fire personnel from three districts battled a rapidly spreading brush fire at the Sullivan Regional Airport Saturday afternoon. The fire, which started when a piece of working machinery caused a spark in the dry grass near the runway, charred about 12 acres before it was brought under control and extinguished.
No one was injured, and no buildings or planes were affected. However, one of the Sullivan pumper trucks caught fire while crews were battling the blaze. The truck sustained damage to wiring and to its undercarriage.
Sullivan Fire Department Chief Rich White told The Missourian that personnel initially were dispatched to the airport at 12:43 p.m. on Saturday. When they arrived, they found a small fire in the field east of the runway consuming about a half-acre.
“The wind was causing the fire to spread quickly,” White said. “It didn’t take long for it to turn into a much larger fire.”
Out of concern for nearby buildings, the fire was upgraded to a first alarm shortly after the initial crews arrived. The airport also was closed at that time. Equipment and manpower from St. Clair and Bourbon responded to help at the scene.
The easterly wind spread the fire away from the runway and hangars but toward a maintenance shed. It was brought under control before it reached the shed.
It took firefighters about 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control. The airport was reopened at 2:06 p.m. when the scene was cleared.
“This is an example why people need to be careful in these conditions,” White said. “It’s just so hot and dry. Please use extreme caution.”
White said if the wind would have blowing in a different direction, the hangars and planes could have been at risk.
Twenty-four Sullivan firefighters worked the scene, as did crews from both St. Clair and Bourbon.