Schools, roads are closed as brush fire still smolders

November 20, 2001|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

A 15-acre brush fire in Chase continued to smolder yesterday, producing thick smoke that contributed to the closing of several roads and three eastern Baltimore County elementary schools.

Education officials will decide this morning whether to reopen the schools.

The fire, near Earls and New Bengies roads, has been under control since Sunday afternoon, but hot spots could burn for several days, said John Parham, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Fire Department.

More than 70 firefighters worked to put out the fire yesterday but were hampered by dense brush and piles of dry leaves, Parham said.

"We have so much heavy brush and fallen leaves that we basically have fire and hot spots that are 2 to 3 feet deep," Parham said. "So in order to extinguish it, you have to keep wetting it down, digging it up and wetting it down again."

The smoke, along with dense fog, severely limited visibility and forced Baltimore County police to close sections of several roads leading into Bowleys Quarters and Carroll Island on Sunday evening and yesterday morning. Sections of Eastern Boulevard and Earls and Carroll Island roads were closed until 8 a.m. yesterday, said Cpl. Vickie Warehime, a police spokeswoman.

Because of the road closings and smoke, education officials canceled classes at Oliver Beach, Chase and Seneca elementary schools, said Charles Herndon, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Board of Education.

"We had a difficult time getting the buses on the road," Herndon said.

The fire, which is smoldering in an uninhabited area east of Martin State Airport, was discovered about 6 a.m. Sunday. Parham said the fire was contained Sunday evening after firefighters, most using hand tools, dug a firebreak around it.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

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