Crews take several hours to contain Jackson Township woods fire

John Joyce

Ten area-volunteer fire departments worked to contain a woods fire in Jackson Township that threatened at least one home on Pigeon Hill Road, Monday afternoon.

Fire crews work to salvage the trees in a wooded area behind the residence after controlling a fire at 5774 Pigeon Hill in Jackson Township, Monday, April 25, 2016. At least 10 area volunteer fire departments were on hand. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Fire crews were on scene for several hours after the fire was contained working to clear the burned area and prevent further losses.

The fire was first reported at 2:47 p.m. by a 9-1-1 caller who said the woods were on fire behind the residence at 5774 Pigeon Hill Road. The house sits atop a large hill, at the base of which a Nashville Volunteer Fire Department Engine from Station 11 set up a drop tank. Firefighters then ran a 5-inch house up the snaking driveway to another Jackson Township engine at the top of the hill. Hoses from that engine then fed water to the firefighters in the woods behind the home who managed to protect the two-story residence from suffering any damage.

"It was accidental," Station 11 Fire Chief Brad Dunham said.

Dunham had command at the scene and said while no structures were damaged, the effort to contain the blaze was made more difficult due to the terrain.

"We had to drag about 750 feet of hose into those woods," he said.

The fire started as the homeowner was cutting fire wood with a chain saw in his back yard. Dunham said either the muffler on the saw was still hot or a spark flew from the chain and sparked some underbrush.

"He didn't even realize it had caught at first," Dunham said.

Dunham said the other stations that responded included companies from Thomasville, Porter, East Berlin, Spring Grove, Jefferson, Dover Boro, Hanover, North Codorus and Loganville.. EMS crews also stood by and a rehab station was set up on the front lawn of the home where overheated firefighters stripped off their turnout gear and took water.

Engines from the mutual-aide fire departments cycled in and out, drawing water from fire hydrants and working to keep filled the drop tank at the foot of the hill. Dozens of firefighters carried tools including rakes, shovels, chain saws, cutters and blowers — all used in conjunction with standard firefighting equipment to extinguish the fire and protect the woods from rekindling.

"The gypsy moths came through that area a couple of years ago and caused all kinds of damage," Dunham said.

Fire crews had to cut and clear several dead trees. Dry conditions added to the problem, as most of the region has been under brush fire advisories and burn bans for the past several weeks.

"We're still not out of the woods.That little bit of rain we had the other day didn't do much for us."

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