USA: Necessity is the mother of invention and it inspired Flagler County public works staff to create and build a 1,000 gallon water tank sturdy enough to be pulled deep into the woods to fight the largest brush fire in the county, officials said.
“After being out there for a couple of days trying to figure out how to get water to the fire, you come up with something for a solution,” said Flagler County Fire and Rescue Capt. Jamey Burnsed.
Firefighters told the roads and bridges crew what was needed late Wednesday and design and construction began, Burnsed said. A day later, it was moved to the site of a 4-acre fire in the middle of a “very large swamp” that is three-quarters of a mile from vehicular access south of the north county line.
“We used steel tubing to reinforce everything,” said Benjie Caulie, director of public works. “It has to be strong enough that it won’t pull apart as we drag it over rough terrain.”
Burnsed, who said his staff, which includes a couple of welders, “can put something together pretty quickly” with scrap materials in storage.
“(Flagler County Roads and Bridges) built this skid out of an old 1,000 (gallon) fuel tank,” he said in a note written to Dana Morris, flight operations chief of Flagler County Emergency Services. “It’s filled from a tender at the road and pulled into the fire with a tractor. There is a small four-cycle pump mounted on top.”
Burnsed said it’s just the contraption needed to fight the fire.
“Department of Forestry is out there using it right now,” he said.
Burnsed said it’s not the first time his crew has built something to help firefighters. His crew also built a 4,000-gallon dip tank.
The lifelong county resident said two years ago the need for his crew’s newest creation wouldn’t have been necessary.
“I’ve lived her my whole life,” said 58-year-old Burnsed. “It wasn’t this dry during the ’85 or ’98 fires. This is the first time it’s been dry enough to get in there. There was a lightning strike in the same area two years ago, but we couldn’t get to it because of waist-deep water.”
Currently, there are 12 fires burning in Flagler County that range in size from less than an acre to 350 acres, said Fire Chief Don Petito. The three newest cropped up in the last day and were all less than a quarter-acre in size.
In Volusia County, officials said they are monitoring several smoldering wildfires, but did not have to send any crews to fires on Thursday or Friday.
Drizzle that fell Friday will do little to help firefighters, Petito said.
“This is a persistent drought, and vegetation hasn’t come back from previous years,” he said. “You don’t want to get lulled by the little bit of rain we’re getting. It’s still dry.”
Burn bans remain in effect in both counties.
The emergency burn ban that applies to all residents in Flagler County outlaws open flame being used outdoors, said Flagler County spokesman Carl Laundrie. The exception is for contained barbecue grills.
“The law specifically bans the use, sale or discharge of fireworks, including sparklers,” Laundrie said in a written statement.