Winds blamed for Sugar Grove fire

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 12:14 p.m. CDT

Fields near Sugar Grove Vineyards and Gathering Place experienced a field fire around 3 p.m. Friday. Newton Fire Department acted quickly and were able to prevent the fire from expanding to neighboring properties.

Eyewitness Mike Timmons said the fire was supposed to be a controlled burn to clear out small trees and branches, but he soon realized the wind, which reached speeds of about 20 mph, was causing the flames to burn out of control.

“We thought it would actually stop when it got to the fence line,” Timmons said.

Newton Fire Marshal Mike Knoll said the department was never told by Sugar Grove they were conducting a controlled burn and the department was contacted a little before 3:30 p.m. and received help from the Baxter and Colfax fire departments. He also said the fire consumed 10 to 15 acres, but the vineyard fields remained unaffected by the blaze.

The three departments contained the fire relatively quick, but Newton firefighters did not return back to the station until around 5:30 p.m. Smoke caused by the fire could be seen from about a mile.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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