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UPDATE: Firefighters battle wild I-40 grass fire

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:55 PM

The Lebanon Fire Department battled a grass fire early Saturday morning along a westbound lane on Interstate 40.

Assistant fire Chief Jason Baird said the fire broke out just after 7 a.m. between the 235- and 236-mile markers, and traffic was rerouted to the outside westbound lane.

Witnesses reported fire on the ground, in trees and covering several acres.

Baird said initially firefighters believed they could contain the fire quickly, but shortly after arrival realized the flame might be hard to control.

 “Usually there’s pretty good winds in the morning, so we thought we had something we could contain quick but the grass had gotten so dry and driven by the wind that the fire started to get away from us,” Baird said.

He said the fire then crossed over a fence along the interstate and into private property and firefighters had to also attempt to get at it from Leeville Pike.

“The location just created a huge issue to get access to it, and that’s why we couldn’t gain any ground at first,” Baird said.

Baird said several factors contributed to a few issues firefighters had while battling the grass fire, especially the lack of resources while at the scene.

“The problem with the interstate is there’s no additional water because there’s no hydrants,” Baird said. “A lot of what we had to do was manual stuff to try to extinguish it, so we were trying to conserve the water we had, yet also extinguish the fire.”

According to Baird, the lack of a water source forced trucks to have to leave the fire to go to another location to refill their water supply throughout the process of extinguishing the fire.

“Our biggest problems were Mother Nature and just logistics because of the fire’s location,” Baird said.

The fire took almost all the manpower the department had on shift just to keep water at the scene, to keep trucks refilled with water and to keep the fire from getting away, Baird said. He also said that the fire happened around the time of a shift change so personnel on and off duty contributed, which he added was a huge help.

Baird also said the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency assisted them and sent their brush truck to get the spots Lebanon firefighters couldn’t get to.

“We never lost control, we just weren’t making any ground at certain points then once we dispatched more resources that’s when we finally got a hold of it,” Baird said.

Baird said they were on the scene for well more than an hour before finally putting the fire out after 8:15 a.m.

No injuries were reported, but Baird said one firefighter did receive oxygen after the fire was extinguished.

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