The Saratoga Sun -

Smoke on the water

Grassfire fought by local fire department at historic Pick Bridge


Joshua Wood

Flames from the grassfire on the afternoon of April 27 approach the historic Pick Bridge outside Saratoga.

It was a sunny, but breezy, Wednesday afternoon when Aaron Grow was looking for a spot to fish. The first spot he visited was one of his favorites on the North Platte River; the historic Pick Bridge.

When Grow arrived, he told the Saratoga Sun, a white vehicle was on the east bank of the river. Not wanting to bother them, he went to look for another location. When he returned, the white vehicle was gone and a fire was racing along the east bank of the North Platte River. The breeze, which had grown into a wind, helped the fire along as it chewed up fuel in the form of dead grass and headed towards the willows. 

As the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire, flames soared into the air as the fire moved towards the historic bridge. Built in 1909, Pick Bridge had stood sentry over its section of the North Platte River. Though no longer used by vehicles to get from one bank to the other, it has remained a popular fishing spot and landmark for those floating the river. It also, on April 27, served as a stopping point for the grass fire.

Though hotspots were still evident nearly 90 minutes after SVFD was dispatched to fight the quick moving blaze, the fire had all but stopped at the south side of the bridge. The concrete appeared singed but Pic Bridge did not appear any worse for the wear. 

Speaking with the Saratoga Sun on Monday afternoon, SVFD Fire Chief Pat Walliser said the fire was being treated as incidental. According to Walliser, it was believed a campfire had been started the night before and had not been properly extinguished. He added when the humidity dropped and the winds picked up, any remaining embers had likely initiated the fire on Wednesday afternoon.

With dry temperatures and high winds already hitting early in the year, Walliser stressed the importance of properly extinguishing any campfires. According to, to extinguish a campfire one must pour lots of water over all the embers, if water isn't available stir dirt and sand into the embers. With a shovel, scrape any remaining sticks and logs to remove any embers and make sure there are no embers exposed or still smoldering. Continue to add water, or dirt and sand, and stir with a shovel until all the material is cool.


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