Grass Fire Destroys Iowa Homes

CARSON, Iowa (AP) -- Grass fires driven by 45 mph wind swept across an area of southwestern Iowa, destroying four rural homes and blackening more than 4,000 acres.

Firefighters remained on guard Monday because several hot spots remained from the Sunday afternoon fires, the Pottawattamie County sheriff's office said.

The largest of the blazes was started by a house fire east of Carson, said Terry Hummel, the county's emergency management coordinator. It was not immediately clear if that house was one of the four that were destroyed.

The blazes jumped bare fields and ditches as wind gusted to 45 mph and temperatures rose to record highs in the 70s, spreading across about 12 miles in the county east of Omaha, Neb.

''The wind was so hard that we couldn't get ahead of it,'' said Jeff Sowers, chief of the Carson Fire Department.

Crews had to water down their trucks because flames came to the edge of roads, said Terry McCarthy of the Walnut Fire Department.

Eighteen fire departments battled the flames, and one man said businesses offered the use of their trucks and farmers turned out to help.

''Farmers who weren't even involved showed up with tractors and discs, and they're the ones who are really putting the fires out,'' said Jim Haws, whose home east of Oakland was 7 miles from the nearest fire. ''It was a great thing to see the community effort.''

Two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.

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