Firefighters battle field fire along Highway 20 in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Firefighters battle field fire along Highway 20 in Waterloo


The National Weather Service is warning many Eastern Iowa communities of a very high risk for grass fires. Dry land and high winds are creating dangerous situations.

Just after 1:00 Friday afternoon, a car fire ignited a field along Highway 20 in flames.

"I heard a noise on the bottom of the car, and I thought I blew a tire out," said driver Jose Becerra. "It happened way fast. I didn't have time to think of anything else but get out of the way."

The flames raced up the hill toward a new housing complex near 4th Street and Highway 20. Debbie Benedict and her husband just moved into their home on the corner last week.

"My husband was eating lunch and said -- Deb, there's a fire! So we ran to the window, and sure enough there was smoke and we could see the flames," said Benedict. "When it came up to the curb we thought, it's not going to take much more for it to jump over and come our way!"

The wind was so strong, it caused the fire to spread within minutes from the highway across the entire field. But its direction did prevent flames from crossing over to Benedict's home.

"It was pretty much straight out of the west. It probably concerned them it was getting close, but we got 'em covered," said Waterloo Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Mike Junk.

Firefighters had to battle flames on either side of a fence, and even used brute force.

"You're not always able to use water in some of these areas. So we use what we call grass beaters," said Junk. "Really taxes the guys. It's really hard on you to swing those grass beaters for very long."

No one was injured, and the damage is minor. But it did create quite the thrill for one little guy, Benedict's grandson Kainen.

"It was pretty exciting for Kainen because he just loves firefighters! So we had a front row seat," she said.

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