5-alarm brush fire burns 50 acres, injures 1 worker

More than 110 battle blaze in wooded area of Gambrills


News from around the Baltimore region

April 20, 2005|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

More than 110 firefighters and other emergency personnel battled a five-alarm brush fire yesterday that seared about 50 acres in Gambrills, south of the Millersville landfill, Anne Arundel County fire officials said.

The fire, in a wooded area along Dicus Mill Road, was reported around 12:30 p.m. Firefighters brought it under control by 4:20 p.m., said county Fire Department spokesman Ariel O. Jackson.

No civilians were hurt, though a state forestry worker clearing the area sustained non-life-threatening injuries when a tree fell on him, Jackson said. The worker was taken to North Arundel Hospital, the spokesman said.

Firefighters did not know what caused the fire, but Jackson said brush fires typically occur in fall and spring.

"With warmer weather, it's notorious for this kind of thing," he said.

Fire officials did not evacuate homes along Dicus Mill Road. When one neighborhood resident saw the fire equipment lining her road, she said she recalled a series of fires deliberately set several years ago.

"I lived here a few years ago when they were all around us," said Susan Abare, a 16-year Gambrills resident. "I was like, `Hey, it's starting again.'"

The fire left behind a thin layer of gray and black ash - the remains of the dead leaves and other forest floor debris that fueled the flames.

"We pretty much had the surface burning," Jackson said.

About 25 recruits from the Anne Arundel and Annapolis firefighter training academy helped by reeling in 3,000 feet of hose and putting out small hot spots that were still smoking at 5 p.m. yesterday.

Firefighters soaked the leaves in the surrounding area "so we can make sure we don't have to come back," Jackson said.

Large equipment couldn't access the site directly because of the trees, so they used brush units - four-wheel-drive pickup trucks with 250-gallon tanks - to penetrate the woods, Jackson said.

Maryland Forest Service workers cleared trees and brush to make temporary roads so equipment could pass, he said. They cut down trees with fires in their crowns to bring the flames down to their level.

The wooded area borders Route 32, which helped keep the fire from spreading, he said. The nearest source of water was along Route 175, so tankers carried water to the scene, Jackson added.

Firefighters from Calvert County, Annapolis, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Maryland State Police and the Naval Academy attacked the blaze with 17 engines, four tanker trucks and other equipment, he said. A state police helicopter also provided information.

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