The continuing threat of brush fires in the area was underscored Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 8 when firefighters representing five fire departments from two counties battled a huge outdoor fire off Orpheus Road in Bloomfield Township in eastern Jackson County.
Bloomfield Township Fire Chief Joe Alcox reported that his department was notified at 12:38 p.m. Tuesday of the fire, which occurred off Orpheus Road, approximately three-quarters of a mile off U.S. Route 35. The Madison-Jefferson and Jackson fire departments provided mutual aid from Jackson County while the Rio Grande, Centerville and Vinton fire departments provided extra help from nearby Gallia County.
Before it was over, the fire consumed approximately 15 acres which included high grass, brush, and some woods. An outbuilding which was in the path of the fire was also damaged. Firefighters were on the scene for approximately four hours.
Alcox reported that the fire started when a hunter’s campfire accidentally spread. Ohio law prohibits open outdoor burning from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. during this time of the year, due to seasonal conditions which include a ground cover of dry leaves and grass. Alcox stated that the Ohio Division of Forestry cited the hunter as a result of the fire.
The entire area of Southeastern Ohio was under a Red Flag Warning Wednesday which means that “critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.” The Red Flag Warning for the area remained in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday evening.
Local and area fire departments have had to respond to numerous outdoor fires during the past several weeks due to the dry conditions.
Outdoor Fire In Coalton
Speaking of other fires, Coalton Mayor Kim Milliken posted a report on the village’s Facebook page on Wednesday regarding a fire which occurred in the village earlier that day due to open burning. She reported that an outdoor fire was ignited when a person was attempting to burn flooring material near a wooded area.
Milliken credited quick action by the Coalton and Wellston fire departments with preventing a major fire.
“Open burning is illegal inside the corporation limits,” Milliken wrote. “If you want to burn, it has to be no larger than 3-foot-by-5-foot and contained within a burn ring or secured place and burning cannot begin until after 6 p.m. and must be completely out by 6 a.m. A water hose that has water running to it must also be available and near your fires. Sadly, this could have burned down a lot of apartments and put a lot of people out of their homes.”
Forest Fire In Wayne National Forest
Not far from Jackson County in Lawrence County, firefighters battled a huge fire earlier this week which was burning out of control in the Wayne National Forest. At one point on Wednesday, officials from the Wayne National Forest (WNF) requested people to avoid the area around State Route 93, south of Telegraph Hill Road and west of Vernon-Painter Road, as firefighters fought the blaze.
“This wildfire is named the Kimble Complex Fire and is approximately 150 acres,” a WNF representative said in a Facebook post. “We are urging everyone to avoid the area while firefighters work to contain the wildfire.”
The release continued that “wildfires put human lives and property at risk. They strain local, regional, and national emergency resources. All it takes is one wildfire in the wrong place at the right time to cause extensive damage.”
The post said the cause of the fire is under investigation and more information will be shared as it becomes available.
Officials say a 1,300-acre wildfire began with multiple small wildfires earlier this week.
The smaller wildfires started Tuesday and eventually came together, and the wildfire grew in warm, dry, windy conditions, according to the forest system. It warned of possible decreased visibility because of smoke along that part of State Route 93 but said there were no road closures or impacted trails as of Thursday.