Ground and air forces fight Dundela brush fire

 

A farmer’s brush fire set Saturday, along Ridge Road at Dundela, got so out of control South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services had to call in help from above to extinguish the blaze.

The fire to dispose of brush left over from land clearing lit Monday morning was out of control by 1-2 p.m. Monday, when firefighters were called in to try and extinguish the blaze which was starting to spread.

Iroquois, Williamsburg and Morrisburg firefighters were all on scene fighting the blaze from the ground.

“We had 1,600 feet of hose on the ground and we couldn’t get it under control said Chris McDonough, fire chief of South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services, who also reported that it was difficult to access the fire.

“The situation got really dangerous,” said McDonough. “Four guys were caught in a vortex, where there was fire all around them,” he said, of the very dangerous situation, that they managed to escape. 

However at that point, McDonough knew that drastic measures were needed to avoid injuries to the firefighters and to keep the fire from spreading.

“We had depleted all our resources,” he said, “We only had one truck left in Morrisburg, in case of some other emergency.”

So, about three to four hours after they were called to the scene, McDonough called in the Ministry of Natural Resources with their water tanker and spotter airplanes to extinguish the blaze that was starting to spread into an adjacent tree line towards the east.

The water tanker from North Bay was able to extinguish the fire in about four passes dropping a fire suppressant foam. 

“We were really fortunate to get the tanker,” he said. “Their turn around time between loads was 7-8 minutes. They did a really good job.”

One firefighter was treated by EMS for heat exhaustion and breathing issues.

The landowner, Alfred Ettlin, did have a burn permit, however the brush was piled in very large wind rows rather than piles. McDonough says these huge wind rows are the main source of the problem. 

“He had six rows (of brush) about 15 feet high and 500 feet long, spaced about 50-75 feet apart, so what was happening was the first wind row would start the next one, making it a very intense fire,” explained McDonough.

According to McDonough the farmer who owns the property will be responsible for paying for the cost of fighting the fire including the services of the fire bomber. 

The MNR rate for the services of the water tanker is $3,657.49 per hour. The required spotter plane costs $1,244.77 per hour and each load of foam dropped by the plane is $135.

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