Fire chief: Fire started in middle of field, believes it was man-made

(Source: Google Maps)
(Source: Google Maps)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Several fire departments worked on a large field fire along Highway 69 east of Paragould Tuesday afternoon.

The fire started shortly before 1 p.m.

Paragould Fire Chief Kevin Lang says the massive field fire started in the middle of the field, and he believes it was man-made.

"I don't know if someone could have been out riding a four-wheeler that caught something on fire or if someone just decided I think I am going to set something on fire," Lang said. "Who knows. We are trying to figure it out but we may never know."

The fire spread to nearby homes on South 6th Avenue and Locust Street, setting two homes on fire.

Erik Wright, Greene County OEM, said a few people did suffer minor burns and were treated by emergency personnel.

Homes around Locust Street and 3rd Avenue were evacuated as a precaution.

The field is located between South 8th Avenue and South 3rd Avenue.

Heavy smoke could be seen from miles away.

Curtis Davenport with the Greene County Rescue Squad said several sightseers were in the roadway so they were called to help Paragould police block intersections so fire trucks could get to the scene.

"Everybody is curious. People was just driving around and taking pictures until we could get it shut off, but when something like this happens, drive away from it and let first responders do their job," Davenport said.

Officials say the field is a Miscanthus grass field and is used for biofuel.

Lang said, "the grass is a type of grass that burns like fuel and broke out as if it was on gasoline."

Farm Bureau did a story about Miscanthus in 2012 when it was being grown at A-State.

A nearby business, Nidec,  had to move some parked semis from a parking lot that backs up to the field, for fear it would spread to their parking lot.

The wind and low humidity have caused several Region 8 counties to implement a burn ban.

Paragould was already under a burn ban, and Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon issued a burn ban for the entire county at 1:25 p.m. Tuesday via Twitter.

The Paragould School District was forced to hold students at the school because bus routes were affected due to the flames and smoke. Students that lived near East Vine, East Locust, and East Pearl area were the affected students.

Greene County Tech Superintendent Gene Weeks monitored the situation but wasn't forced to make any changes.

The Southern Greene County Fire Department, Oak Grove Fire Department, Western Greene County Fire Department, and members of the Greene County Rescue Squad also assisted.

Chief Lang estimated as many 70 emergency personnel responded to the blaze.

The fire remains under investigation.

Region 8 News will continue to track this story and have more updates as soon as they become available.


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