RANSOM — Debris from the fires that devastated several homes in Ransom on Monday whipped through the air as firefighters continued to work to cool hot spots Tuesday morning.
Ken Flax, a volunteer firefighter, pointed out the houses that sustained damage as a wildfire quickly grew out of control early Monday afternoon — damaging numerous houses in the small town.
“This was my aunt’s house right here,” Flax said of what was left of Rosella McClain’s home.
The house on Kansas Avenue was a complete loss.
Another house next door, as well as a garage, were burned almost entirely to the ground, and several other homes had extensive damage.
Yuvonne Kraft, who lives on Ogden Street, had damage on the west side of her home.
She said she got a phone call that her house was on fire Monday afternoon, so she raced home as quickly as she could.
“They had to bust down the door to get in there,” Kraft said.
She said there was extensive damage to her attic, including burned wires and smoke damage.
Kraft and her husband were able to come back to their home Monday night to take valuables with them in case the fires started up again.
“I feel fortunate we were able to have time to do that. Really, I’m just so thankful for these guys,” Kraft said of the volunteer firefighters.
According to Sheriff Bryan Whipple, the initial call came in Monday at approximately 1:38 p.m.
Members of the Ransom Fire Department were on their way to assist in another grass fire near Beeler when they were called back to Ransom to help battle the blaze.
The school was evacuated after 2 p.m. as a precautionary measure while firefighters worked to contain the fire on the west part of town.
Crews and trucks from Hays, Ellis, WaKeeney, Utica, Brownell and Ness City assisted Ransom into the evening hours.
Monty Roths, community member, said at one point there had to have been more than 100 people, in the town of approximately 250, surrounding the homes and working to extinguish the fire.
“It was an incredible sight to see,” Roths said of the volunteers helping with hoses and shovels.
Ransom has 12 volunteer firefighters, and Flax said approximately 10 worked through the night to ensure the hot spots remained contained.
They were requesting assistance with that task from other nearby fire departments Tuesday morning as many of their men had not had much sleep.
Jim Lutters, who has been a volunteer firefighter since 1979, said they have had grass and structure fires before, but nothing that caused as much damage in his time as a firefighter.
“Nothing like this,” Lutters said.
Grisell Memorial Hospital is accepting donations for non-perishable food items, bedding, toiletries and clothing so families can come and gather what they need.
“For clothing, gift cards to Walmart would be great, too,” said Abby Tillitson, an employee of the hospital. “Or if you have clothes, just bring them in and if it fits, it fits.”
The North Ness County Ministerial Alliance opened a fund at First State Bank of Ransom for monetary donations, and there also is a “Fire Relief Fund for Ransom” gofundme.com account.
Pizza Hut and McDonald’s of WaKeeney donated food that was helping feed the firefighters at the VFW in Ransom during lunch hour Tuesday.
Insurance agents were assessing properties Tuesday throughout the day, and Whipple was assessing damage to submit data for state and federal aid.
Ken Flax said the plan for the rest of the day was to continue to keep everything under control.
“We’re just very thankful for everyone who showed up to help,” he said.