A grass fire burned about an acre of land near the southbound lanes of Interstate 65, slowing motorists who were guided into one lane to avoid the fire and smoke.

Two Columbus Fire Department engines went to the fire at 1:20 p.m. Monday, which was just south of the main Columbus (State Road 46) exit, said Capt. Mike Wilson, fire department spokesman. Those driving by reported seeking smoke and smoldering brush along a hillside shoulder on the west side of the interstate.

Police directed traffic to one lane to allow firefighters to work at the scene. Wilson said firefighters were particularly concerned about the fire reaching a nearby wooded area, which they were able to prevent.

Firefighters used most of the water they had available in the Engine 5 and Engine 6 tanks which they carried to the scene, a total of 1,500 gallons, Wilson said.

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“If we would have been notified two minutes later, this fire would have grown substantially, and we would have been on the scene for several hours,” said fire department Lt. Rick Chatham.

Firefighters were at the scene for about 40 minutes and both lanes of traffic reopened by 2:15 p.m. Monday. No injuries were reported.

Cause of the fire is undetermined, but firefighters said conditions are dry and residents need to be cautious about tossing discarded cigarettes out the car window.

“We have seen that discarded cigarettes can create a fire similar to the one we had today, especially when leaves and grass are dry,” Wilson said. Firefighters also thanked those who called 911 to report the fire.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.