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Wind-whipped fire scorches 9 acres

February 23, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

BOONSBORO -- Fire spread across nine acres of grass and woods off Reno Monument Road Sunday afternoon after an outdoor fire spread out of control, fire officials said.

It took about 50 firefighters using rakes and shovels, plus brush trucks equipped with water and foam, about an hour to bring the 4:29 p.m. blaze under control, said Oley Griffith, chief of the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro.

The fire at 21130 Roy's Lane spread quickly in winds that were gusting more than 25 mph Sunday, Griffith said. He added that firefighters have to be wary of wind direction when fighting such fires.

"It's tough on the people," Griffith said.

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources officer who was on Lambs Knoll on South Mountain spotted the fire, said Kevin Moore, a ranger with the Maryland Forest Service.

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The man who started the outdoor fire did so to burn some tree limbs, Moore said. The man thought recent precipitation made it wet enough outside to burn but did not realize how quickly winds can dry out areas, Moore said.

The man tried to put the spreading fire out with blankets and water, Moore said.

Moore declined to name the individual, who was issued two warnings.

From the initial fire, flames spread downward through eight acres of fields and one acre of woods, said Moore and Griffith.

The burned property belonged to the man who started the initial fire, Moore said.

Open burning is currently allowed in the county but anyone who burns is encouraged to call Washington County's 911 center so dispatchers are aware of the fire, Griffith said.

Griffith said landowners should also take windy conditions into consideration when deciding whether to burn outdoors.

In addition to units from Boonsboro, crews from Rohrersville, Sharpsburg, Fairplay, Myersville, Middletown, Funkstown and Potomac Valley also responded, Griffith said.

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