Grassfire burns about 15 acres at Carnes Park

Carnes Park Fire

By Jennifer Eisenbart:

JEFFERSON — Six area fire departments responded to a grassfire in a prairie at Dorothy Carnes County Park Monday afternoon.

The Fort Atkinson Fire Department was notified of the blaze in the Town of Jefferson shortly after 1 p.m.

Fort Atkinson Division Chief Mike Lawrence said that, while the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System was not activated, the fire was designated as a “working still,” meaning that mutual aid was requested. He said the call for aid went out shortly after the Fort Atkinson firefighters arrived on the scene, with departments from Edgerton, Jefferson, Whitewater, Rome and Cambridge responding.

Lawrence estimated that about 15 acres of parkland burned south of Rose Lake along Hoard Road, east of U.S. Highway 12. He said the fire appeared to have started accidentally.

Firefighters from the various departments remained on the scene until about 3 p.m.

Jefferson County Parks Director Joe Nehmer confirmed late Monday afternoon that the fire had not been a prescribed burn, although that land — a planted, maintained tall grass prairie — has been burned in the past to keep it healthy.

 “It looks like the fire did a pretty good job for us,” Nehmer said, adding that when a prescribed burn is undertaken and the wind is blowing like it was Monday, “you can see a wall of flames 15 to 20 feet high.

“We’re thankful no one was injured,” Nehmer said, adding that grassfires in that area can spread fast, creating a danger for people unable to move away quickly enough.

Meanwhile, there also were a few smaller ditch fires reported to the east of the main fire, but Lawrence said that the Jefferson Fire Department extinguished those on its way to the Dorothy Carnes County Park prairie blaze.