County hires foam whiz to snuff out stump fire


He came, he saw, he promised to put out the fire.

And then he flew back to Missouri.

Fire expert Richard McCann flew into Maryland late Friday night to investigate the stump fire at the Patapsco Valley Tree Farm that has been burning for more than a week.

Every day it burns it costs the county $10,000 in firefighting expenses. Mr. McCann, who operates a specialized fire suppression company in Nixa, Mo., convinced county officials that, for $20,000, he could put the fire out with chemical foam.

"He came in to look at it and will be coming back on Tuesday," Battalion Chief Ralph Nelson said yesterday.

The fire, in the 8700 block of Dogwood Road, has been particularly pesky because it is buried under a small mountain of tree stumps that reaches 75 feet at its highest point. A temperature inversion early last Monday kept dense fumes overhead for most of the day, and a patchy cloud of smoke covered parts of western Baltimore County for much of the week.

Chief Nelson said Mr. McCann got in touch with county fire officials after he heard a nationwide call for help over the International Association of Fire Chiefs Computer Network.

He visited the site early yesterday and convinced officials he could put out the fire with Phos-Chek WD 881, a foam made by Monsanto.

A solution to the stump fire cannot come soon enough for residents of the Woodlawn and Catonsville areas. The Patapsco Community Association is scheduled to talk about the problem at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Granite Presbyterian Church, in the 10600 block of Old Court Road.

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