Black smoke billowed into the clear blue sky south of town Tuesday morning as Hays firefighters practiced extinguishing a burning car at their training facility off Old Highway 40.

The simulation exercise, which the Hays Fire Department holds twice a year, also included using the Jaws of Life to extract a victim trapped by a vehicle rollover.

“We do this twice a year now, spring and fall,” said Hays Fire Chief Ryan Hagans, observing the crew string out and position hoses, crank open a fire hydrant and hose down the fire.

“We have five to seven people on duty at all times,” Hagans said, “so we want to get them trained up and multi-faceted to do everything in the fire service and let them know what five guys can do on their own, because help is always 10 to 20 minutes away, to get some more help on scene. So we train hard.”

Water dripped from the blackened shell of a car sitting in the grassy field.

“See,” Hagans said. “They’ve already put the car fire out, and now they’re starting an extraction, and it’s only been five minutes since they’ve been there.”

With vehicles scattered around the field, Hagans said Hays Public Works brings out equipment to tip them over and smash them up to simulate a car wreck.

Firefighter Lucas Everett, extraction coordinator, was leading the exercises Tuesday, starting when the crew lit a bundle of hay with a propane weed burner.

With the fire out to eliminate that hazard, the crew turned attention to the flipped-over van.

“Right now they’re gaining access by spreading open the door, and then since we didn’t have a dummy in there to rescue, the simulation ends when they give me the gas pedal,” Everett said. “That lets me know they unpinned their feet.”

Crews began taking their turn at the exercise Monday, and it continues through Wednesday, Everett said.