by KATE SHUNNEY & KATE EVANS
Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company is quickly approaching their busiest month on record, fire officials said, after a string of field and structure fires during the last week.
The company has logged 72 calls already for March. This past week, dry conditions and several field fires added to calls for three structure fires.
A mobile home in the 1000 block of Clone Run Road in eastern Morgan County caught fire last Wednesday shortly after 10 a.m. Sgt. Zach Sipe of Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company was first on scene and arrived to find smoke and fire visible. He said the fire appeared to be underneath the home initially. The fire was contained to the residence, which was being rented.
Residents call in the fire and were able to leave the home safety. The fire was fanned by gusting winds, and it took crews 45 minutes to control the blaze. The home is considered a total loss, and the American Red Cross was contacted to help the family.
The fire is under investigation by the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office. In addition to Berkeley Springs, fire crews from Hedgesville, Bedington, Hancock, South Morgan, Great Cacapon, Paw Paw, Little Orleans, Williamsport, Back Creek Valley and Morgan County EMS and Air and Rehab from Washington County assisted.
On Thursday, March 15, fire consumed a barn off the 7000 block of Martinsburg Road near Michael’s Chapel Road. The fire, reported just after 7:30 p.m., started with a controlled burn that got out of control, said 911 officials.
A neighbor called in the fire. The first units from Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Company arrived at the scene at 7:50 p.m. and reported that the fire was fully involved.
Units from Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon, Paw Paw, Hancock, Hedgesville, Orleans, Back Creek Valley, Clear Spring and Bedington Volunteer Fire Companies responded to the blaze along with the Morgan County Emergency Medical Services and the Morgan County Deputy Reserves. Crews remained on the scene until 11:55 p.m.
Last Saturday, a home off Clone Run Road was the site of a basement fire, which fire crews extinguished before it could spread to the rest of the residence.
Firefighters arrived to see smoke coming from the basement and main floor. The homeowner called in the fire at shortly before 11:30 a.m. They reported they had been trying to light a woodstove and nearby gasoline or gas fumes ignited.
Berkeley Springs, Hedgesville, Hancock, Great Cacapon, Morgan County EMS, South Morgan, Bedington, Back Creek Valley and a Washington County air unit responded to the fire scene. The fire took 10 minutes to get under control and units remained on the scene for an hour.
The home was not a total loss, but couldn’t be occupied until repairs were made to wiring and smoke damages areas, said Sgt. Zach Sipe.
He advised that homeowners should close all windows and doors and do not return inside if a fire breaks out inside a home.
Monday brush fires
Fire crews tackled back-to-back field fires on Monday, March 19 in eastern Morgan County. The first was called in at 3:48 p.m. in the 7000 block of River Road. Firefighters found four acres of field burning when they arrived on the scene. Several nearby structures were threatened by the spreading fire, but weren’t damaged due to firefighter efforts. The fire was under control in roughly 20 minutes, and crews from Berkeley Springs, Hancock, Clear Springs, Needmore, Great Cacapon, Hedgesville, Bedington, Reynolds Store, South Morgan and Morgan County EMS remained on the scene for two hours. Capt. Chris Sipe was in command of the scene.
Crews had just returned to their firehouses when a second field fire more than a mile away was reported.
911 dispatched units to Potter Road, off the 8500 block of River Road, shortly after 6 p.m. after homeowners reported a 50’ x 75’ area on fire, endangering a nearby shed. Sgt. Zach Sipe of Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company said windy conditions led the fire to spread. Units were on the scene for roughly an hour. Chief Jami Clark was in command of the fire response.
Fire officials urge homeowners to call Morgan County 911’s non-emergency line (304-258-0305) when having a controlled burn. Residents are advised to stay with fires at all times, to only burn natural vegetation and to keep a running water source near the burn. Residents shouldn’t burn on windy or dry days due to the heightened threat of fires spreading.