[portfolio_slideshow]By Matt Kelton Pioneer Sentinel
A line of thunderstorms dumped brief but heavy rains on eastern Clay County Wednesday, and kept fire fighters scrambling with frequent cloud-to-ground lightning.
Fire fighters from Henrietta, Ringgold, Bellevue and Vashti responded to three fires that at one point were burning simultaneously. Lightning caused all three fires.
The first fire was reported at 4:19 p.m. on Jim Maddox Road near FM 2332 in the Riverland area. Henrietta volunteer Billy Carlton, who served as fire command, said a dozer operator working on the property saw the lightning strike and had the fire almost contained by cutting a fireguard by the time fire fighters arrived.
Rains put the fire out.
Ringgold was the first on the scene, followed by Henrietta and Bellevue. No estimate of acres burned was available, but Carlton said the fire was small.
Fire Fighters left to Maddox Road fire to respond to a blaze on Dutton Road near the Montague County line. The fire also was extinguished by rain, but not until after burning an estimated 35-40 acres.
Additional help from Vashti was requested for a fire that sparked near East Anderson Road. Vashti was the first to arrive while Henrietta, Bellevue and Ringgold were released from the Dutton Road Fire.
The fire sparked when lightning struck in a heavy stand of trees in a creek bottom, causing the largest fire of the day at approximately 60 acres. Rains passed to the east of the fire, offering no assistance to fire fighters.
The fire was contained to the creek bottom through a series of back-burns and dozer work. Jack Pickett provided dozer service, while Clay County Precinct 3’s tanker was on hand.