Firefighters from five counties fought a brush fire that swept through five wooded acres in southern Calvert County on Tuesday, scorching land between Patuxent High School and the new Dowell Elementary School on H.G. Trueman Drive.
Although the blaze did not threaten residents or buildings, it still proved to be a difficult challenge because crews had to cut through nearly a mile of brush and woods to reach the center of the fire.
Firefighters first arrived at the scene about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, but most trucks could not get to the site of the flames until nearly 4 p.m. The blaze was extinguished about 9 p.m.
"It's a pretty big one, the worst I've seen in five or six years," said Calvert volunteer firefighter Mike Pfaltzgraff. "It's hard to get in there, that's the biggest problem."
Crews also were hampered by the day's extreme temperatures, said Donald Hall, emergency management director for Calvert County. He said eight to 10 firefighters were treated at the scene for heat exhaustion.
Fire units from Calvert, Charles, St. Mary's, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties responded to the multiple alarms. In all, 95 rescue personnel, 26 firefighting units, four bulldozers, six ambulances and two state forestry units were involved.
The cause of the blaze remained undetermined yesterday, Hall said, and could be impossible to identify. This season's drought has made small fires an everyday occurrence, he said.
"This could be something power line-related, or some kids playing could be responsible," Hall said. "But with a wood fire, it's hard to tell how it started."
Firefighters reported that when they first arrived, the fire was blazing and rolling across the treetops. They later worked to contain the fire while standing directly on top of still-smoldering land, surrounded by billowing smoke and intense heat.
CAPTION: Prince Frederick firefighter Mike Harrington wets down smoldering brush. Harrington was among 95 rescue personnel responding to the multiple-alarm fire.
CAPTION: Five Counties Fight Fire in Calvert: A brush fire swept through five wooded acres in southern Calvert County on Tuesday. Units from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's, plus dispatches from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties and two state forestry units, responded to the multiple alarms. The cause of the blaze remained undetermined yesterday, officials said.