Fire burns 5 acres of forest in Jefferson County

April 14, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

SHANNONDALE, W.Va. - Jefferson County firefighters nipped a forest fire in the bud Monday after it burned about 5 acres in a mountainous area off Mission Road.

Officials said the blaze could have spread and engulfed more than 100 acres.

A house with a woman and two children inside was threatened by the wildfire at one point, but firefighters snuffed out the blaze yards from the structure.

No one was injured.

Division of Forestry Patrol Worker Chip O'Roke said the fire swept through the V-shaped valley with Mission Road on one side and a steep ridge on the other.

O'Roke said quick work by firefighters contained the blaze.

"It could have been a lot worse," O'Roke said. "These guys here did one heck of a job putting a stop on it."


Friendship Fire Company Chief Steve Hough said about 30 firefighters from all five Jefferson County fire departments and two from Loudoun County in Virginia battled the blaze.

More firefighters were called in late in the afternoon to relieve some of those on duty, Hough said.

"Luckily it's not a real hot day, but people are getting tired," Hough said.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation by the West Virginia Division of Forestry.

"It wasn't done by lightning," O'Roke said.

The property's owner, Howard Speaks, said he's had difficulty keeping all-terrain vehicles off the 409-acre property.

He said a backfire from a vehicle or a discarded cigarette could have started the fire.

Though the winter and spring were fairly wet, the forest still is filled with fallen leaves from last fall and broken limbs and trees, Hough said.

The fire also was pushed by a steady breeze.

"We were lucky," Speaks said.

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