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Fire claims Planters cotton, trailers

November 28, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — More than 30 firefighters from eight fire departments battled a wind-driven blaze that destroyed some 40 trailers of cotton at a business east of here.

Throughout the day and into the night fire crews worked to prevent flames from leaping to nearby buildings in the Planters Ginning Co. on Highway 78 near Highway 115.

Hampering efforts were winds whipping through the area at 15 mph along with a lack of water in the remote area, where crews had to depend on canal water to keep up the fight against the blaze.

The fire erupted about 1 p.m. and Imperial County Fire Department Capt. Lon Hettinger said it is thought that one trailer was brought into the Planters yard already smoldering.


Hettinger said the cotton could have ignited during the harvesting process through the use of machinery.

Because of the strong winds, the flames quickly spread south to other trailers filled with cotton that were in close proximity in the yard.

Fire crews from the county, Brawley, El Centro, Calexico, Niland, Holtville and Calipatria and Centinela state prisons were called to the scene.

They were joined by staffers from the cotton-ginning business who did what they could to keep the fire from spreading to other cotton and buildings in the yard.

"I have a really good crew," said Bob Bedwell, manager of the ginning facility. "They have a lot of experience handling cotton and cotton fires."

Hettinger estimated the fire caused $60,000 in damage. No injuries were reported.

He said the blaze was extinguished by 9:30 p.m., but six firefighters stayed at the scene all night to assure the fire did not rekindle because of the winds.

Fred Nippins, assistant county fire chief, credited the fire crews and Planters staff for controlling the blaze and preventing its spread despite the winds.

>>Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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