At 11:59 a.m. Sunday, January 7, 2018, the Stevens County Fire Department was dispatched to a fire at the Northwest Cotton Growers Gin Inc. Upon arrival the decision was made to request mutual aid. Seven Kansas County Fire departments, one Oklahoma Fire Department, three Emergency Managers, Stevens County Health Department and the Red Cross responded to the call.
Community response was overwhelming – members brought equipment, food and drinks.
The fire started when a spark made it out to the bur pile and tumbled down, fueled by wind, igniting the entire pile.
According to Incident Commander Rodney Kelling, at one point there were 60 firefighters fighting to contain the fire in 40 to 45 mph winds. Smoke made visibility near zero and Highway 56 was closed and rerouted. The road is now open to traffic.
The fire is 100% contained but there are still hot spots being monitored. The Fire Department’s quick response helped keep the fire contained to the cotton modules and there was no damage to the cotton gin structure itself.
At this time, Mindy Gillespie, Office Manager, said the estimated loss is 400 modules which equals 4,000 bales of finished cotton product – a large loss. There has not been a final dollar amount established at this time.
Submitted by Susan Schulte, Stevens County PIO.