Always pay attention way down the track


This Burr Oak Fire truck was badly damaged when it was involved in a collision while fighting prairie fire between Burr Oak and Guide Rock last Tuesday. Fourteen volunteer fire departments helped fight the blaze that burned approximately 10,000 acres.

Several people found it difficult to be where they needed to be to fight the fire last Tuesday because of the smoke and fast moving flames. Jon Thompson was one of the many firefighters who had a scary experience.

Jon and Mike Harris were manning a 1,000 gallon water tank. When the tank was empty, they headed back to Burr Oak on the highway where smoke and flames were crossing the highway.

Luckily for Jon Thompson, he was looking far ahead on the road when he saw the bridge planks burned way. He was hauling 1,000 gallons of water to the fire north of Burr Oak. He slammed on his brakes and stopped before he reached the ravine with no bridge. The trailer jackknifed and hit the bumper of his truck. Men following him helped him get the rig turned around and back to the fire. Several wooden plank bridges were burned in the fire.

Once the tank was filled Jon went back to the fire by himself. Because the fire and smoke were so bad on the highway north of Burr Oak, Jon decided to go back on a dirt road he had driven on earlier on his way to the fire. Jon was on an east-west road west of where the Wesleyan Methodist Church once sat. Smoke was heavy and visibility difficult. Driving 35 MPH on the dirt road, Jon was headed down hill to a wooden plank bridge. He thought it looked different than earlier when he had gone over it. The blowing smoke made it difficult to see. As he got closer, he realized the planks were gone. He hit the brakes and his rig jackknifed. The trailer carrying the 1,000 gallons of water hit the side of the bumper on his truck. But he got it stopped before plunging into the creek. Once he and the others got his truck turned around, they headed on to fight the fire.

Those who were following Jon, asked why he stopped so abruptly. They understood when they looked at the road in front of his truck.

Jon used to race cars. When he was car racing, his dad, Eldon Thompson, had told him to "always pay attention way down the track." That advice paid off even during a fire!


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