Kansas brush truck burns in fire

Photo by Chief Steve Moody

Strong winds in Stafford County, Kansas pushed a grass and corn stubble fire across the county line into Pratt County on November 3. In addition to the 700 acres that burned, the fire also entrapped and burned a Stafford County brush truck.

The Pratt Tribune reports that “smoke suffocated the carburetor” causing the engine to stall. The firefighters on the truck escaped unharmed into the black, or previously burned area, but the truck was not as fortunate.

This is not the first time that a fire truck has stopped running due to insufficient oxygen while being operated in dense smoke. We are glad that the firefighters are OK.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

14 thoughts on “Kansas brush truck burns in fire”

  1. Notice, the suppression portion of the vehicle was not consumned by fire. This started as an engine conpartment fire. Probably, hot gases and particles of conbustion where ingested (sucked) into the engine air intake igniting the paper (fiber) air filter. Many engines have been destroyed because of this event. A small mesh wire placed over the intake during fire season intercepts these particles and acts as a “heat sink” to prevent such incidents. Yes, it is very good the crew escaped!

    1. Bill said, “If it is true, as reported in the newspaper article, that the engine stalled from what may have been insufficient oxygen (“smoke suffocated the carburetor”)”. Then this would not have caused an engine compartment fire as I have seen also. As the engine dies and nothing happens unless the smoke clears or blows another direction so that you can get it started again. Fire Triangle, Ignition, fuel,”Oxygen.” No Oxygen…no engie compartment fire.

    1. Matt, could you explain? If it is true, as reported in the newspaper article, that the engine stalled from what may have been insufficient oxygen (“smoke suffocated the carburetor”), how could a diesel engine have made a difference?

      1. Guess Matt hasn’t been back to the link to answer you, so I will. Diesel doesn’t ignite like gas and is not as volitale so even if it was caused by the engine…which we doubt, most likely it would not have caught fire or if it did would not of been as intense. I still think a gas fire would of made the gas tank explode and consumed the entire brush truck as vapor from gas ignites first and diesel by the fuel.

        1. JD, you have no idea what your talking about. gas tank explode, gas ignites by the vapor and diesil by the fuel…. All flamable liquids evaporate and the vapor burns. You have alot to learn!!!

  2. “. . .firefighters on the truck escaped unharmed into the black . . .”

    Glad the firefighters are ok, and I know there are always going to be times we work in the green, but this is a prime illustration of why it’s not the best way to do it!

    1. Usually the smoke is so thick and choking you that you have no choice but to work in the unburned fuel. You can’t breathe or see what your doing when the head fire is coming at you. From looking at the picture in the distance, it appears they were working the right flank which is usually always hotter burning, but the wind could have switched or who knows. But working a flank is not as bad as working a head fire.

      1. “You can’t breathe or see what your doing when the head fire is coming at you”…that’s why you work in the black. Then the head fire is NOT coming at you, the wind is blowing the smoke and head fire away from you, and you have virtually zero chance of getting burned up. Plus, you can see obstructions and hazards the grass would hide. That said, there may be a very good reason this truck was in the unburned fuel (like driving to get into the black), and at times it can’t be done, but ALWAYS it’s best to be working in the black if you can, especially on a grass fire.

          1. Hardly did it ever on low grass fires like this. But you don’t always have a choice how you battle the fire. Sometime,….umm, many time you have to make a direct frontal attack on the head because it is where you end up and you can’t go around or structure’s are in danger or animals or whatever. It’s never all one way. We just don’t know what happened and so we all are guessing as to our expertise and experience’s in our careers.

  3. Diesel’s don’t catch fire like gasoline engines do. They could have backed burned around the truck and then sprayed out the excess fire with the pony motor and water on board. Only if they would of had a drip torch/backfire pot would they have been able to do this fast enough. Also, if they would of had the fire gel on the truck they could of sprayed it on everything and kept it from burning. Need to know what year the truck was if it had a carbureator or fuel injection. Why don’t they have an onboard fire extinguisher like most brush trucks? If the gas tank is in the reat why didn’t it explode and incinerater the “entire” unit including the pony motor and rear tires. Why were only the fron tire burned? Many unanswered questions to know the full reason’s here.

  4. Diesel or Gas, Oxygen, or lack there of – the crew escaped and surrvived. I hope they pass on what they learned and thank the Fire Department / Media for publishing this picture. Remember Risk alot to save alot Risk a little to save a little. Get back to the Black to attack as soon as you can. To all firefighters/EMT’s/Law Enforcement thanks for the job you do-hope our paths cross someday. God Bless

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