With twenty departments on the scene, that Wednesday Tonica field fire was out in under two hours. Tonica Fire Chief Alan Stremlau said the winds and residue pushed waist high flames along at 25 feet a minute…and even faster. A single ignition source: possibly a lit cigarette – got the fire going.
The flames exploded when they hit a pile of crop residue. Sometimes firemen had to scramble out of the way and then regroup. At least one hundred ten acres of crop stubble burned. Two area farmers worked up ground to slow the progress of the flames. Stremlau said the fire got within 150 feet of I-39. The acreage belonged to two owners.