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Woods fire off Blairs Valley Road under investigation

April 01, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION
  • John Washabaugh, a firefighter with Co 56 in McConnellsburg, Pa., hits hot spots with water Thursday afternoon during a mountain fire off of Blairs Valley Road near Whitetail Ski Resort.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer,

MERCERSBURG, PA. -- A woods fire Thursday afternoon burned about four acres off Blairs Valley Road just north of Whitetail Resort, and fire officials said the Franklin County blaze illustrates the high threat of forest fires in the region.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said it was believed the fire was the result of a "human cause," but an investigation into the blaze continued Thursday afternoon.

The fire at 14173 Blairs Valley Road started behind a home, and a charred riding lawn mower was among the burned debris behind the house.

The fire on private property spread up the side of the steep, rocky, wooded area.

About 50 firefighters brought the fire under control in about 1 1/2 hours, DCNR spokesman Ray E. Miller said. After the fire was contained, firefighters worked to put out flames inside the perimeter, Miller said.

The fire, which was reported at 2:02 p.m., occurred near Alpine Drive south of Mountainside Drive, officials said.

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Miller said firefighters were fortunate that winds were calm Thursday. Had it been windy, the fire easily could have spread over 100 acres, Miller said.

"If it would have been windy, it wouldn't have stopped at 100 acres," said Dusty Stoner, chief of the Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters & Warren Volunteer Fire Company.

Miller urged people to be careful with outdoor fires. Although no burning ban is in place in Franklin County, woods are starting to get dry because there are no leaves on trees to block the sun's rays, Miller said.

As a result, leaves on the ground are drying out fast and posing a fire danger, Miller said.

The danger of fire will continue over the next two days as warm, sunny weather is expected, Miller said. Miller urged people to hold off on burning debris outside until the region gets significant rain.

Anyone who feels they need to burn debris now should closely monitor it, Miller said.

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