February 20, 2014
At approximately 5 pm the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Arkansas State Police and more than 75 volunteer Fire Department Personnel from Norfork, Salesville, Tracy, Buford, Lone Rock and Rodney, responded to a large fire that was out of control in the area south of Norfork. With wind gusts reported at near 50 mph, the fire was burning towards homes, barns and other structures.
Baxter County Office of Emergency Manager Jim Sierzchula (Sher shula) set up an incident command center at the Norfork High School to coordinate the incident. Sheriff’s Deputies and State Police began notifying residents in the path of the fire they should prepare to evacuating their homes. Fire personnel worked to contain the fire but were hampered by terrain and strong winds. The Arkansas State Forestry Commission assisted with a bull dozer and fire fighters were able to stop the fire’s advance and contained the fire at approximately 6:30 pm. The fire which began off of Sheid’s Road was stopped and contained roughly one quarter mile from PJ’s Restaurant and Red’s Landing Road, The fire burned approximately 200 acres, consumed two hay barns, a John Deere Tractor, other farm implements and equipment and a small outdoor shed.
Joseph Chaffee age 26 of Mountain Home, told Sheriff’s Investigators that he began burning a stump on property at #1 Sheid Lane around 9 am the previous day, February 19th. Chaffee stated the thought the fire was out when he left around 1 pm. When he arrived back at the residence at 5 pm he could see a large amount of smoke, realized the fire had rekindled and called 911.
The investigation is continuing.
The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all of the fire departments and the numerous volunteer firemen who responded. No doubt their hard work saved thousands of dollars of property and potentially lives.
Sheriff John Montgomery