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138 acres burn in fire

March 29, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

138 acres burn in fire

SMITHSBURG - A forest fire that ignited Saturday afternoon on South Mountain was more than three times larger than originally thought, officials from the state Department of Natural Resources said.

Patricia Manown Mash, a spokeswoman for the department, said aerial photographs revealed that the fire swept though 138 acres of the northeastern tip of Washington County.

Initially, DNR officials thought the fire burned about 40 acres.

Mash said firefighters were more concerned with public safety and protecting property than determining the acreage, which can be tricky in steep, rocky terrain.

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"It's very smoky and it's a confusing time," she said.

Firefighters from 12 departments battled the blaze for more than 15 hours.

The fire was brought under control at about 6 p.m. but was not extinguished until 4:15 a.m. Sunday, Mash said.

"Today, they were concerned with mop-up," she said.

Mash said Zeke Seabright, the DNR Forest Service's regional fire specialist, will return to the area today to continue the investigation.

Mash said officials have not determined what caused the fire, although they believe it was accidental.

The blaze, which started near a railroad crossing below the High Rock overlook, did not cause injuries or damage buildings.

A firefighter who was taken to Washington County Hospital for reasons unrelated to the fire was treated and released on Saturday.

The same terrain that made acreage estimation difficult also burdened firefighters, who had to charge up the mountain with hoses, officials said. The terrain made it impossible for trucks to get to the fire.

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