Brush fire season opens early with 6-alarm blaze Warm weather noted in fire that burns 4 acres, sends firefighter to hospital

March 31, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel firefighters ushered in an early brush fire season last weekend with a six-alarm blaze near south county's Curtis Point that burned about 4 acres and sent one firefighter to the hospital with cardiac problems, a fire official said.

EMS/Fire/Rescue spokesman John M. Scholz said big brush fires usually start in earnest about a month from now.

"The unseasonably warm temperatures and the low humidity have caused it to be a little busier than it would be normally," Scholz said.

Sunday's fire began just before 3: 50 p.m. in the 5200 block of Chesapeake Avenue, a marshy area in the Cedar Hurst community, Scholz said. He said the fire spread quickly and was hard to fight because firefighters, fearful of the swampy ground, could not bring their engines too close.

Three firefighters sank into the marsh, but were not hurt, Scholz said, and firefighter Brett Kolikowski, 24, was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center with cardiac problems. Scholz said he was treated and released.

The fire was under control by 5: 10 p.m. and did not spread to any homes -- which were a few hundred feet away. Scholz said 59 firefighters from the county, Annapolis, the Naval Academy and Calvert and Prince George's counties fought the blaze.

Bud Reaves, a project forester with the state Department of Natural Resources' forest service, said Sunday's fire occurred near the "peak burning period" of the day -- 3 p.m.

Frequency of brush fires "does coincide with human activity," Reaves said. "When it's cold, people aren't outside picnicking. When it's warm and people start coming outdoors, you have more people with physical contact with the outdoors, so if someone's careless with fire then you have the possibility of more brush fires."

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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