Brush fires flare up across county

by Kate Evans

Firefighters were busy responding to multiple large brush fires that occurred in Berkeley Springs and Great Cacapon last Saturday. According to a Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company press release, their company was alerted around 11:22 a.m. Saturday morning February 22 for a reported brush fire in the 4200 block of River Road.

While Berkeley Springs volunteer firefighters were responding, Morgan County 911 Dispatch advised that they had multiple calls reporting several fires along River Road neat Potomac Road. The firefighters requested a tanker and brush truck from Hancock Volunteer Fire

Area firefighters battled several brush fires this past weekend including this one on Roberts Road in Great Cacapon.
photo by Sha Gomez

Company at 11:39 a.m.

Morgan County Dispatch received six or more calls with the same information and at least one caller reported that someone was starting several fires along River Road, said the press release.

Wagon 1 arrived at 11:35 a.m. and immediate asked for a tanker and brush unit from Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company. They were dispatched and arrived around 11:45 a.m.

Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company Deputy Chief James Steiner established command. Steiner reported at least two brush fires of two to three acres each which were spreading rapidly. An additional tanker and brush unit from Hedgesville were dispatched.

Steiner requested more tankers and brush units and asked for law enforcement to shut down River Road as several personnel were almost struck by passing motorists. He also put out a call for all available personnel from Morgan County Volunteer Fire Companies 1, 2 and 3. The two brush fires totaled approximately five acres.

At 12:42 p.m. the fire was contained and units were held for extensive overhaul. Firefighters were on the scene for around three hours with the last unit clearing at 2:37 p.m.

Units that responded to the River Road brush fires were Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon, South Morgan, Hancock, Hedgesville, Orleans and Reynolds Store Volunteer Fire Companies and Washington County Emergency Rehab Unit 255.

Also responding were the West Virginia State Police, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia Division of Highways, the West Virginia Division of Forestry and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Police.

Robert’s Road

As Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company Tanker 2 was returning from the River Road fire and standby duty at the Berkeley Springs fire house, they reported a column of smoke visible from the Panorama Overlook in the area of Gamble Road or Johnny Cake Road at 2:47 p.m., according to their company’s Facebook post about the fire.

Great Cacapon units responded under Assistant Chief Junior Hook. Crews had a difficult time locating the source of the fire and Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Company’s brush truck was added to assist with the search for the fire’s location. Great Cacapon’s brush truck found a brush fire in rough terrain on Roberts Road at 3:49 p.m.

Assistant Chief Junior Hook assumed command and requested additional brush units, tankers and manpower.

Berkeley Springs, Paw Paw, Great Cacapon, Hancock and Reynold’s Store Volunteer Fire Companies responded to the scene. Units cleared the fire scene around 5:40 p.m.

Iroquois Trail fire

On Sunday, February 23 at 11:11 p.m., firefighters from Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon, South Morgan and Reynold’s Store Volunteer Fire Companies were dispatched to Iroquois Trail off Rock Gap Road for a woods fire that was threatening a house, according to a Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company press release.

The edge of the fire had almost reached the house when crews arrived. Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company Deputy Chief James Steiner established command and they immediately began an attack line for fire suppression. Crews did a rapid knock down of the woods fire and Steiner reported the fire was under control within 10 minutes of firefighters being on the scene.

Additional fire units arrived and helped with fire suppression and overhaul. Approximately half an acre of woods burned and the house was undamaged by the fire. Units left the scene at 1:07 a.m.

Hancock Volunteer Fire Company also responded to the fire but was cancelled en route.

Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer said his agency has not received any criminal complaints about the fires, or been asked to investigate them as criminal arsons.