Thanksgiving riot shows dangers at Maryland mental hospitals

Field fire burns in Fallston area Saturday

An estimated 75 firefighters from Baltimore and Harford counties descended on a wooded area of Fallston Saturday afternoon to battle a field and woods fire that covered about five acres.

The firefighters came with traditional engines and tanker trucks, as well as brush trucks and all-terrain vehicles designed to fight fires in wooded areas.

"Once you get back through the woods, in the hills, they become very manpower intensive," Dave Williams, spokesman for the Fallston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company, said Saturday evening.

No houses in the subdivisions surrounding the wooded area, which has a stream through the middle of it, were damaged, and no injuries were reported, according to Williams.

It took about two-and-a-half hours to get the blaze under control. The fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m. in the 1900 block of Fallston Valley Drive, about five miles west of the center of Bel Air.

Personnel from Fallston, Bel Air, Jarrettsville, Joppa-Magnolia and Whiteford, as well as the Kingsville and Hereford companies in Baltimore County, responded.

It was necessary to have multiple firefighters on scene to rotate crews in and out of the burning area; relief stations were available for personnel to rest.

Williams noted local firefighters typically wear turnout gear – helmets, heavy coats and pants, boots – designed to fight structural fires in houses or commercial buildings.

They do not typically wear gear suited for wildfires, "but it's what we have," Williams said.

"Heat and dehydration is always a concern that we have to work into our strategy," he explained.

Williams noted the risk of wildfires increases as more people build houses in formerly unoccupied wooded areas of the county.

He urged residents who have homes in the woods to clear a 50- to 100-foot buffer around their houses, and remove any debris that has accumulated over the winter.

"We need to make sure residents are constantly cognizant of the need for them to do their part," Williams said.

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