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Pa. crews need four hours to fight mountain fire

March 15, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A Tuesday afternoon mountain fire northeast of Waynesboro was the fifth blaze of its type reported to the 911 center in Franklin County, Pa., since March 1.

The fire, reported at 12:30 p.m., was contained to 3 acres of private property off Polidor Road but kept firefighters from seven companies busy for nearly four hours.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by Rod Lyon, a forest fire specialist supervisor with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry.

"Our fire season is about three weeks early," Lyon said. "I just think people are using bad judgment and burning on bad days."

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He said there wasn't enough snow over past months to pack the leaves. Now they are dry and fluffy, and oxygen is able to get under and between them to quicken the spread of fire.

Only one mountain fire was reported in February in the county, and that was late in the month, according to Bryan Stevenson, communications coordinator at the 911 center.

He said there were 21 brush fires in February and 29 so far in March.

The dry, windy conditions prompted Washington Township, Pa., to initiate a voluntary burn ban. Debris burning is always prohibited in the boroughs of Waynesboro and Chambersburg.

Lyon cautioned that if people are going to burn debris, they should use a metal container with a mesh screen on the top. They should clear a 10- to 15-foot area around the barrel and keep it free of leaves and sticks.

A hose should be kept nearby, Lyon said.

"Don't leave your barrel burning unattended, and don't burn on windy days," Lyon said.

He said people often don't realize that debris burned one day in a barrel could still be burning two days later.

He credited the first firefighters on the scene Tuesday with preventing the fire from spreading.

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