Brush fires burn acreage in Patapsco state park

Officials say train sparks responsible for blazes

April 17, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A string of brush fires, likely touched off by train sparks, spread across more than 100 acres in Patapsco Valley State Park yesterday before fire crews contained them last night, rail and fire officials said.

About 200 firefighters and nearly 40 trucks from five jurisdictions responded to the fires, which started just after 1 p.m. and spread eight miles along the Baltimore County and Howard County line, Baltimore County fire officials said.

No homes were damaged, and no injuries were reported, said Baltimore County fire Battalion Chief Michael Robinson.

Service along the CSX line, known as the Old Main Line, was not affected by the fire, company spokesman David Hall said.

A CSX rail grinder, which is used to reshape train tracks, kicked up sparks on a run from Baltimore to Brunswick, creating brush fires, Hall said.

Fire officials said that winds kicked up the fire, which was fueled by dead trees and brush that had not received significant rainfall in two weeks.

The fires extended across the Avalon Area of the park, along the train line that runs roughly parallel with River Road, the Patapsco River and the county line, just west of Interstate 95.

"It just raced through pretty quickly," Robinson said.

Firefighters from Anne Arundel, Howard, Frederick and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City responded, and state forestry personnel used bulldozers to set up fire lines, Robinson said.

Firefighters were working last night to put out hot spots, and Robinson said crews would return this morning to evaluate the scene.

Officials from the Department of Natural Resources, which manages Patapsco Valley State Park, notified fire crews about the blazes, Robinson said.

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