Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — Quick response by the New Boston Fire Department Thursday contained and extinguished a hill fire before it could spread to nearby residential neighborhoods.
According to New Boston Fire Chief Chris Bender, the NBFD received a call late Thursday afternoon reporting a fire on the hill at Shale Bank. Several New Boston firefighters responded the area. They drove up the hill from Pleasant Avenue to just behind the fire and used fire rakes to build a perimeter in which it could be contained and safely burn itself out. Bender said the fire burned for about four hours before dying out, with no injuries and no property damage.
If the fire was not contained, he said it could have been a threat to houses on Pleasant Avenue or Glenwood Avenue.
Bender said the cause of the fire is unknown, and may never be known.
“It could have been anything. There’s not a whole lot of stuff in the woods that can really catch on fire, other than somebody riding a four-wheeler and a spark come off of it, or smoking up there. I mean, we don’t know,” he said.
Spring winds create an additional fire hazard, helping to quickly spread a blaze.
“Even though it’s starting to get out of the fall year and starting to get into the spring and summer, you still got a lot of dry stuff on the ground. That wind’s been blowing here lately, and it’s going to dry stuff up pretty quick and it will carry an ember,” Bender said.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry, there are more than 15,000 wildfire and natural fuel fire occurrences in Ohio every year — primarily in the spring (March through May), and the fall (October and November).
“These wildfires are attributed primarily to the careless burning of debris and household litter and arson and result in untold damage to trees and landscape, water quality, improvements such as fences and outbuildings and place people and their homes at significant risk,” the ODNR website reads.
More than 3,000 acres of Shawnee State Forest were lost during a wildfire in April 2009. The cause of that fire remains unknown and debated. Some believe it was a prescribed burn that spread out of control and others suspect arson. One person was accused of starting the fire and was arrested, but was later cleared of all charges by a Scioto County court.
For more information about wildfire risks and safety tips, visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.com.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.