Four fire departments and one sheriff’s department were called to a brush fire that got out of hand outside of Dakota on Thursday, May 16. Merlin Glenn Thompson, 60, of Dakota, was burning brush and left the fire unattended for a few minutes, according to the report. When he returned the fire had lit nearby grass and was rapidly spreading up an adjacent hillside towards a wooded area, officials said. Thompson tried and failed to put it out, he told law enforcement. In the meantime a neighbor saw the out-of-control fire and called the Dakota Fire Department. With assistance from the La Crescent, Pickwick, and Nodine fire departments, the blaze was extinguished. “It was difficult to get to,” explained one La Crescent Fire Department official. Because the blaze was not accessible to fire trucks, the approximately 20 firefighters scrambled up the hill with backpack sprayers, swatters (fails used to beat out flames), and chainsaws (used to remove potential fuel).
The blaze was controlled and no property was in danger, according to La Crescent Fire Department officials. The Dakota Fire Department could not be reached for comment before the time of printing. Thompson was ticketed by the Winona County Sheriff’s Department for burning without a permit.