Beyond the tragic accident on Highway 82 last Thursday, Worth County rescue personnel have had an extremely busy couple of weeks. From Sunday, October 26, through Sunday, November 2, Worth County Fire-Rescue responded to approximately 15 calls including seven total calls on Wednesday, October 29.
The string of emergencies began on the last Sunday of October just after 3:00pm when a cotton picker caught fire off of Isabella-Terrell Road. WCFR Captain John Graddy was on shift that Sunday afternoon. The captain says firefighters arrived on scene quickly and minimized the damage to the picker. He estimates that only some hoses and wires and the front heads were damaged in the initial call.
Monday afternoon, crews responded to a motor vehicle crash at Gammage Road on Highway 112 just south of the hospital. A Chevy Silverado and International farm truck collided on the outskirts of town resulting in the right front wheel being torn off of the flat bed farm truck. Luckily no one was injured in the accident.
Beyond that call, Monday and Tuesday were relatively quiet, but Wednesday business picked up again with a pair of medical calls just after noon. Then, at approximately 1:45, WCFR was dispatched to PT Salter Road in response to a structure fire. Upon arriving, firefighters found a pole barn on fire. They quickly extinguished the blaze, but Captain Graddy estimates that 30 percent of the structure was damaged.
Apparently, the barn was used to build wooden pallets. When the guys working on the pallets went to lunch, sawdust in the barn ignited and the fire spread. Some of the pallets and equipment were also damaged in the incident.
Then following anoth er medical call, WCFR was again called to Isabella-Terrell Road as the same cotton picker had caught fire again. When firefighters arrived for the second round, the machine was fully involved with flames, and it was obvious that there would be no saving it.
Thursday morning, just before 8:00am, firefighters were called to the same cotton field for the third time in four days. This time, the farmer had apparently taken the cotton out of the picker and tried to build a new module with the salvaged cotton. Some of the crop must have been smoldering as the module caught fire.
Because a cotton module fire is extremely difficult to extinguish, firefighters are left with few choices when dealing with these incidents. According to WCFR Captain Ray Salter, the foam retardant used to put out these fires will bond with the cotton and ruin the crop. Additionally, any cotton sprayed with the foam could damage gin equipment. So firefighters will often call the gin to see if they want to salvage the module. If foam cannot be used, firefighters can also break the cotton apart to separate the burning portion from the module.
At 8:00am on Friday, there was another motor vehicle crash at the corner of Pope and Main by Banks Funeral Home. A vehicle apparently ran the stop sign there and was T-boned by an oncoming car. Two people suffered injuries in the crash and were transported to the hospital for treatment.