Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Spectacular fire engulfs marsh



The Associated Press

MENTOR, Ohio - A fast-moving marsh fire with 20-foot flames spewed rolling, dense black smoke hundreds of feet into the air Monday near a residential area.

img
Marsh fire spews dense black smoke near a residential area in Mentor, Ohio.
(Plain Dealer/Thomas Ondrey photo)
| ZOOM |
No homes were evacuated and no injuries were reported in the fire that charred about half of the 673-acre Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve about 25 miles northeast of Cleveland, fire officials said.

The fire, which started between 1:30 and 2 p.m., destroyed about 350 to 400 acres of 6-feet tall grasses, Battalion Chief Dale Lewis said.

Bob Archer, director of the Lake County Emergency Management Agency, said authorities did not know what caused the blaze but said conditions were "unbelievably dry."

"The wind, of course, is feeding it," Archer said. "It's just moving right through the marsh." The National Weather Service said winds were 5 to 10 mph.

The grasses' reeds have an oily base that causes black smoke and fuels flames that are similar to an oil fire, Lewis said.

Lewis said he expected the fire would go out on its own Monday night as it ran out of vegetation to burn. Firefighters can control the fire's outer edges, he said, but walking in the murky marsh is dangerous.

"We're pretty confident we're going to be able to take care of it," Lewis said.

Archer said fires occur frequently in the marsh during dry springs but that Monday's fire was among the most severe. "It's been a number of years since we've had something this large," he said.

Some people living near the marsh were worried about their homes being destroyed. Traffic was rerouted around streets blocked by hoses and fire equipment, but people could still reach their homes.

Doug Luther, 35, said the fire got within about 50 feet of a neighbor's home that sits along the marsh, so he ran over to rescue his neighbor's dog.

Firefighters quickly fought off the advancing blaze, Luther said.

When David Cadman, 76, saw the flames, he used a garden hose to drench his backyard barn so it wouldn't burn.




"GREAT NEIGHBORHOODS" SERIES
Guide to Florence

TOP LOCAL STORIES
FOP might withdraw from collaborative
Light rail gets favorable review
Teen's body found under neighbor's bed
92-year-old loses license for fatal accident
Rights plan up for vote tonight

LAURA PULFER COLUMN
Learning to respect hand jive

PHOTOS OF THE DAY
Photo: Canoeing couple
Photo: Firefighter fans
Photo: Preparing the pool

CINCINNATI-HAMILTON COUNTY
Two plead guilty in plot to stop man from testifying
Lawsuit against Enquirer dismissed
Police chief stops knife fight
Best future lawyers at Oak Hills

AROUND THE TRISTATE
Convict's last meal: chicken, apple pie
Portman salutes troops after visit to hospital
Group adopts scale to chart Tristate vitality
Tristate A.M. Report
Good News: 'Taste of' offers view of India
Obituary: John Toebben coached soccer champs
Congrats

BUTLER COUNTY
1% cuts ordered for Butler County
Fairfield picks site for justice complex
School kids helped by foundation

WARREN COUNTY
Tax issues facing Warren Co. voters

OHIO
Lower drug prices for Ohio seniors
Spectacular fire engulfs marsh
Ohio Moments: 50,000 paid respects to Lincoln

KENTUCKY
Airport reduces ground infractions
Clues sought in restaurant slaying
Boyfriend gets 35 years for killing
Court won't decide on commandments
Doctor pleads guilty in drug case