Commonwealth Journal

November 12, 2013

Science Hill firefighters busy with rash of fires over the weekend

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Science Hill — Firefighters in one northern Pulaski County town have been busy after a rash of blazes in the area.

Josh Whitis, chief for the Science Hill Volunteer Fire Department, said his firefighters have been called to no fewer than four fires in the last week — with three of those blazes occurring just over this past weekend.

Most recently, the department was called out to Anderson Valley Lane off Ky. 1676 at around 12:30 a.m. Monday after a trailer there caught fire. Whitis said the home, which was completely gutted by the blaze, was unoccupied.

“The people there had just moved out of it (the trailer) a few days ago,” said Whitis.

Whitis said the Anderson Valley Lane blaze was reported just a few hours after his department left the scene of a garage fire on East Todd Road, which was reported Sunday afternoon. Whitis said the detached garage was heavily damaged in the blaze.

“That fire was caused by the homeowner burning leaves next to the garage,” said Whitis.

Whitis emphasized that the state’s fire ban is still in effect— and will be until the dry fall conditions pass. Currently, residents are banned from outdoor burning between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. within 150 feet of the woods line or a structure. Monday’s dry and windy conditions also spurred a special weather statement from the National Weather Service concerning outdoor burning.

“It has been nearly five days since most locations have seen any rainfall,” states the alert. “This has resulted in very dry and combustible leaf litter across eastern Kentucky.”

The dry, windy conditions came ahead of a cold front, expected to sweep in overnight Monday, bringing with it a rain or rain and snow mix. Any accumulation is expected to be limited to grass and elevated areas, with less than an inch possible.

“As long as conditions are this dry, it’s dangerous to do any outdoor burning,” said Whitis.

The fire department on Saturday at around 6:30 p.m. was called to the second time in a week to a residence on Closade Drive, in the Science Hill/Eubank area. Whitis said the trailer first caught fire at around 1 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2. That home was unoccupied as well.

The report was more urgent after fire fighters were told someone may have been in the home when the fire broke out, but Whitis said the residents had actually been moving out when the blaze started on Nov. 2.

Whitis said the first fire at the Closade residence was extinguished quickly, limiting the damage to the home, but he said the second fire reported this past Saturday, Nov. 9, significantly damaged the home.

Whitis said the Somerset Fire Investigation Team is looking into the causes of the Closade Drive and Anderson Valley Lane fires.

The Dabney Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the blazes.