Quick response quells brush fire
April 08, 2013 11:00 AM

A brush fire burned about 3 acres of ground vegetation but left buildings and large trees undamaged near Aultman early Sunday morning.

James Bloom, a forest fire specialist supervisor with the Bureau of Forestry in Ebensburg, said quick response from local firefighters helped to minimize the damage.

“The only reason that it didn’t get to be 30 or 300 (acres) was the quick action of the fire companies. These guys know what they’re doing,” Bloom said.

The Aultman Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched for a brush fire in Center Township at 6:22 a.m., originally off of Fourth Street; but Sarah Shaffer, the chief engineer, said it was actually nearer to Third Street heading up the wooded hill toward Rigley Street.

“In the morning you could see it from the house here,” she said.

Shortly after the first call, firefighters from Homer City, Iselin, Coal Run, Indiana, Tunnelton, Blairsville and Black Lick were dispatched to assist and Brush Valley was put on standby.

Bloom was also called, because the Bureau of Forestry can provide heavy equipment like bulldozers or air support if a fire surges out of control.

“As it turned out yesterday, none of that was needed, and the reason it wasn’t needed is because these guys did such a good job knocking it down on the ground,” Bloom said.

Shaffer said crews remained out at the scene until sometime Sunday afternoon; nothing major was damaged.

Bloom said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Bureau of Forestry will look to recoup the costs of battling fires from the person or people who caused it, even in accidental situations, he said.

And he urged residents to have extra caution over the next few days.

“We’re going to be at a high danger until what we call ‘leaf out,’ when we can start getting some leaves on the trees and get these forests cooled down,” he said. “We’re still real dry. You get a little bit of wind and a little bit of sunlight and we’re going to burn.”

He advised against burning anything on windy days, suggested using yard waste like leaves and twigs to make a mulch pile rather than burning it, and asked people to avoid burning their trash.

“Especially this time of year, that would really help,” he said.

The Center Township fire was just one of several that kept fire companies busy around the county, particularly in the morning.

n At 8:25 a.m. Saltsburg and Coal Run fire departments were dispatched to TNA Lane, Young Township. Tunnelton and Iselin were sent from the Aultman fire to assist.

n At 9:46 a.m. Plumville and Marion Center were sent to Banks Road, South Mahoning Township.

n At 10:30 a.m. Blairsville and Black Lick were dispatched to Strangford Road, Burrell Township.

n And at 4:47 p.m. Homer City was dispatched to Two Lick Farm Lane, Center Township.

There was also one call at 11:46 a.m. for utility lines down on Route 119 in Rayne Township. Marion Center was dispatched to that call.

“I thank the local volunteer fire companies for coming out and doing what they do for us,” Bloom said. “We would really be in a lot of trouble without them.”

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