April 12, 2001

Spring Fires Bring Fire Department Out

High winds coupled with a number of unusual circumstances kept the Scotland County Fire Department busy Saturday afternoon. The volunteer force went non-stop for four straight hours, battling four separate blazes on April 7.

The first fire call came in at approximately 12:30 p.m. at a farm owned by Norm Mayberry. Lightning had apparently struck a tree during a storm a few nights before. The tree had smoldered for some time until the high winds on Saturday fueled the flames in the tree and caused it to spread to an adjoining cornfield.

The landowner was able to get the grass fire under control with the assistance of family members and neighbors before the fire department arrived. Firemen watered down the area around the burn site and then cut the tree down and extinguished the flames to prevent any further problems at the site.

Ten firemen responded to the call in four fire trucks. As the crew was arriving at the station, a second fire call was received. A brush fire at the Joyce Weaver residence on Lover's Lane was reported at 1:38 p.m.

Upon arrival the firemen found a grass fire spreading through the timber in a draw immediately behind the residence. Because of the incline of the ground and the standing trees the firemen were forced to use water backpacks and rakes to battle the fire. Fortunately it was caught before it could get out of the depression and thus was not fueled significantly by the wind which could have created problems.

Approximately one acre of grass and timber was damaged in the fire. The blaze was apparently started in a children's playhouse located in the timber.

As the firemen were filling the trucks with water at the fire station a caller reported a grass fire north of Memphis off of Route H at 2:21 p.m.. The blaze was located on the Clarence Kiddoo farm.

This fire proved to be a bigger challenge for the department as the high winds pushed the fire across the CRP field and engulfed several brush piles and adjoining timber. The winds helped fan the flames that were as high as six to eight feet tall in spots.

The firemen were able to use the mini-pumper truck as well as the brush truck to get water into the fields and douse the flames along the burn lines in the grass and timber. Other firemen used the department's two reel hoses on the rural truck to battle the blaze from the gravel roadway as the ground proved wet and prevented much truck access to the region.

As the department was putting the finishing touches on the blaze, a fourth fire was reported. This fire was located approximately seven miles south of Memphis. Due to the large distance between the two sites as well as the fact that many of the Scotland County fire units were low on water, the Rutledge Fire Department was called for mutual assistance at the scene.

When the first responding vehicle from the Scotland County Fire Department arrived on the scene at the Lowell McRobert farm, the firemen determined the blaze could quickly be brought under control, and notified the Rutledge Department they would not be needed to respond.

Both the Kiddoo and McRobert fires were believed to have been started from previous controlled burns in brush fires, which had lingered for several days and then been rekindled by the winds.

The action continued on Sunday as the fire department was called to two additional grass fires.

The first call came in at 11:09 a.m. on Ridge Road on property owned by Justin and Staci See. The fire spread from a burning brush pile and consumed less than two acres of adjoining grassland. It was quickly extinguished.

The second fire call came in at approximately 4:00 p.m. on the 400 block of East Madison Street where sparks from a welder had ignited grass. The fire was quickly extinguished with minimal burn area, mainly isolated along the roadside.

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