WEST LEBANON — A Young Township fire official said Monday night that what now is a series of rural fires over the past 48 hours “is looking as if it is malicious.”
“We’ve been back four different times,” Iselin-West Lebanon officer in charge Bryan Palmer said. “Each time the fire was out. We made sure of that each time we’ve been back.”
Palmer said the fires affecting brush, a coal bony pile and 1,200 tires are under investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“DCNR was there (Monday),” said Palmer, a fire warden for that state agency.
The matter first went to a state police fire marshal, who turned the matter over to DCNR.
Trooper Cliff Greenfield, spokesman for state police at Troop A, Indiana, said the matter also was referred to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Because of the holiday neither state agency could be reached for comment Monday night.
Palmer said firefighters from three counties have been on the scene along Taylor Road for 23 of the 48 hours since the first alarm was sent out by Indiana County Emergency Management Agency at 5:02 p.m. Saturday.
Firefighters also were called out at 12:33 a.m. and 10:07 a.m. Sunday, then again on Monday at 11:18 a.m. and 1:34 p.m.
The Monday dispatches by the Indiana County 911 center were to Iselin-West Lebanon and Coal Run-McIntyre departments from Young Township, as well as Elderton District, Saltsburg and Kiski Township volunteer firefighters, with standby calls to Aultman and North Apollo.
Prior to the Monday afternoon call, North ApolloVolunteer Fire Department posted on Facebook that “between the two (earlier) separate standby calls crews spend about 8.5 hours total covering the area” while other companies from Indiana, Westmoreland and Armstrong counties fought the fires.
Tunnelton-Conemaugh Township, Black Lick, Apollo, Blairsville, Murrysville Rehab, Slickville, Bell Township (Avonmore), Creekside, Plumville District and Parks Township companies also were called out at one time or another over the past two days.
Citizens’ Ambulance also was dispatched, but so far no injuries have been reported.
Indiana Fire Association also was involved, providing a source of water along Wertz Road for Young Township firefighters.
“Volunteers of Company 3 assisted Station 310 (Iselin-West Lebanon) with a fill station for tankers,” IFA posted on Facebook. “We used a couple of portable pumps, a drop tank or ‘pond’ and some patience.”
Palmer is asking anyone with information about the Taylor Road fire to call the DCNR Bureau of Forestry in Ebensburg at (814) 472-1862.