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Brush Fire Caused By Drought Shuts Down U.S. 68

Burn Ban Still In Effect, Officials Say

A soybean field on Chinn lane near U.S. 68 caught fire on Thursday, causing the highway to be shutdown. Despite the recent rain, officials say a burn ban is still in effect. (Image submitted by Lori Sheehan.)

Jennifer Marsh

Herald Staff

A large fire broke out in a Mercer County field Thursday afternoon, prompting the closing of US 68 for almost three hours.

Dep. Chief Glen Phillips of the Mercer County Fire Protection District called it third largest grass/brush fire he has seen in his 36 years of service.

“The first hour was extremely concerning with the flame front moving at about 90 feet per minute,”  Phillips said. “A combination of high heat, low humidity and extremely dry conditions allowed for any spark to  catch fire.”

Phillips said the fire started from a combine working a soybean field near Chinn Lane. Help came from Boyle, Anderson, Garrard and Jessamine Counties, he said.

“We called for help and received an overwhelming response,” said Phillips. “We had over 90 firefighters and 40 apparatus helping contain the fire.”

He said the fire didn’t reach any structures and caused three injuries.

“We had two firefighters and one deputy sheriff injured,” Phillips said. “Two of the injured are back on duty but one firefighter is still recovering.”

Phillips said Mercer County received praise from the state’s Division of Forestry for their efforts to contain the fire.

“I am so proud of our community and its people,” said Phillips. “I really am thankful for all the help we received from agencies and community members.”

The countywide burn ban is still in effect, according to Judge-Executive Milward Dedman. The recent drought has led to a series of fires across Kentucky and to the cancellation of the Battle of Perryville reenactmentment last weekend.

Even with two inches of rain earlier this week, Dedman said Mercer County was still about two inches short of its usual rainfall for this time of year. Officials are waiting for Thursday’s drought report before making a decision.

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