April 1, 1946 Daily Times photo had a caption that read: Grass Fires Keep ’Em Busy. Warm, dry weather with little moisture in the ground has given Minneapolis and suburban fire departments some busy days fighting grass fires. Grass fires have been reported in almost every area of the city. Here the Edina fire department is battling a grass blaze.
No snow this March means grass fires in April. Today's news cautions residents of the new burning ban imposed because of low-moisture and high temperatures. (For those reading from out of state, Minnesota has had a record March of NO snow and predictions of 70-degree temperatures this week).
That made me think of the equipment used to fight grass fires in Edina in the 1940s: wet burlap bags and brooms, water cans, and stomping feet.
Edina men often were the first at the scene of a fire, even though Minneapolis Fire Department was contracted for services. The closest station was at 43rd Street and Upton Avenue in Linden Hills. Because of distance and poor roads, Minneapolis often could do more than stop the flames from spreading. A resident recalled that a firefighter was killed after being thrown from a truck that got stuck in the mud.
In 1941, the Edina Fire Department formed with volunteers. Because many men were fighting in World War II, even teenage boys were called to help (the figure in the background of the above photo appears to be a boy.)
Edina immediately purchased a Willies Jeep with a 500-gallon water tank for off-road travels. When that tank ran out, firefighters didn't have hydrants out in the country so they often dropped hoses into ponds and creeks. A strainer kept weeds and debris from clogging the lines.
Firefighters also carried five-gallon water canisters on their backs to spray down smoldering land. (Today’s Super Soaker water guns for kids can hold two-gallons!)
Grass fires continued to plague Edina into the 1950s; 109 were reported in 1958 and were the most common type of blaze. But by the 1960s, when most of the grass fields became homes and office buildings, the Jeep was hauled out mainly for parades and finally sold to the city of Motley.
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