Area fire companies battle mountain & brush fires over multiple days

by Kate Evans

Area firefighters fought a number of large mountain fires and smaller brush fires this past weekend and on through Tuesday morning that were fueled by high winds and downed power lines.

The initial call for a mountain fire off Pot Belly Way in Great Cacapon came in at Saturday, April 13 at 2:32 p.m. as a smoke investigation.  The access was off Rockford Road. The other side of the mountain access is off of Cacapon Road.

The smoke investigation was quickly upgraded to a brush fire, said Morgan County 911 Director Marshall Younker.  It was initially reported as two acres on fire, but crews ended up being on scene for more than four hours.

Units that responded to the initial mountain fire call were Great Cacapon, Berkeley Springs, Paw Paw, South Morgan, Hancock, Reynolds Store and Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Companies, Washington County Rehab Unit and Morgan County Emergency Medical Services.  The last unit cleared the scene at 9:14 p.m., Younker said.

A mountain fire in Great Cacapon has burned and rekindled for several days, drawing fire companies back to the area multiple times. Photo taken Tuesday, April 16. photo by Jennifer Gloyd Schetrompf

Fire rekindles

Units were called back to the fire scene at 9:38 p.m. on Saturday for the first rekindle.  Great Cacapon Fire Chief Jimmy Reed checked a small area on the site that was smoldering. He said not to send any units back and that they would monitor it overnight, Younker said.

On Sunday, April 14, there was a second rekindle of the Great Cacapon mountain fire.  Units went back to the scene at 4:45 p.m.  There were an additional 3-4 acres involved in the mountain fire then, Younker said.

Units that responded to the Sunday rekindle of the mountain fire were Great Cacapon, South Morgan, Needmore, Orleans, Flintstone, Berkeley Springs and Hancock Volunteer Fire Companies, Washington County Rehab Unit and Morgan County Emergency Medical Services.

Several companies brought utility vehicles to travel over mountain terrain to reach the burning areas.

The last unit cleared the fire scene a little after midnight early Monday morning at 12:16 p.m., Younker said.

On Monday, units from Great Cacapon, Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Companies were back at the fire site for a smoke investigation at Pot Belly Way for a third rekindle of the mountain fire.

The smoke investigation was upgraded to an actively burning fire, Younker said.  The specialized wildfire unit from Frederick County, Virginia was requested by command.

On Tuesday morning, fire units from Great Cacapon, Washington County, Md. and South Morgan were called back to the area for a smoke investigation.

Angela Lane fire

A brush fire off Highland Ridge Road also called firefighters to action over the weekend.  Younker said that the fire location was difficult to get to.  South Morgan, Berkeley Springs, Reynolds Store, Gainesboro and Back Creek Valley Volunteer Fire Companies responded to the fire on Angela Lane. That fire also rekindled as high winds continued over the weekend.

Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company also had a unit at the Woods Resort on Sunday where there were multiple endangered structures from a fire.

Younker noted that Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon and Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Companies also had units on two different large mountain fires in Hampshire County during the many fires large and small that took place over the weekend and on Monday.