Billings firefighters responded to a blaze near 64th Street West and Central Avenue on Monday afternoon.

The six-acre fire, which burned through a barley field, sent up a towering cloud of smoke before it was contained. The blaze was sparked by farm machinery, according to interim fire chief Bill Rash. Neighbors said they saw combines out beginning to harvest that day.

Dan Nielson, whose backyard borders the field, grabbed a shovel and went over the fence to join others who went out to stamp out the burning crops.

"He didn't say anything to me about the fire," said Betty Nielson, Dan's wife. "He just took off."

The Billings Fire Department sent trucks out to the field to contain the perimeter of the fire. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation helped on scene as well. Changing winds blew flames in multiple directions.

Within a half hour, the people working the fire greatly reduced the amount of flames and smoke. The fire came within a quarter mile of the nearest structure. 

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General Assignment Reporter

Reporter for The Billings Gazette.