Lightning suspect in bale blaze



Possible lightning strikes from late Friday night are suspected of causing a fire shortly before 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 4. 

Mitchell County Fire District No. 3 was dispatched to 310 and A road, near the Highway 14 county line on Saturday for hay bales that were on fire. 

According to owner Jeremy Budke, Sam Eilert was driving past the field when he noticed the fire and reported it.

"It burned around six hay bales," said Budke. "It could have been a lot worse. Others are saying that with the lightning strikes being so bad the night before, it is reasonable to say a bale was possibly struck and was smoldering up until the wind gust came through on Saturday to spark the fire."

To help fight the fire, Jeremy's dad, Richard Budke, used a  tractor to pick up the flaming bales and move them so firefighters could spread them out and let them burn down.

Numerous other hay bales were moved to avoid more fire flare-ups. 

According to fire fighter Matt File, it took around three hours to extinguish the fire on Saturday. 

During 2007-2011, local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires that were started by lightning, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). Lightning related fires mainly occur from June to August. 

With dry conditions in the area, a rain forecast for this week should help with needed moisture. 

After receiving .30 today (Monday morning), the National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Phillips, Smith, Jewell, Rooks, Osborne and Mitchell counties in Kansas. 

Thunderstorms are possible this afternoon and evening and could become severe with ping pong ball sized hail and damaging winds of 60 miles per hour. 

A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms are possible with highs near 85 degrees and 5mph winds. Wednesday is forecast for 87 degrees and extends throughout the week with lower temperatures and sunny skies.



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