A malfunctioning oil furnace apparently touched off a trailer fire Monday at Hayes Field Airport in Clarksville, causing an estimated $7,500 worth of damage, the county Fire and Rescue Services reported.

The fire began shortly before 2:26 p.m. at the private grass airstrip off of Sheppard Lane and destroyed the trailer, which served as theairport's business office. The trailer was valued at $5,000 and its contents at $2,500.

About 20 firefighters from Clarksville, Banneker, West Friendshipand Rivers Park stations brought the fire under control in about 20 minutes.

Donald Howell, spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Services, said the blaze was apparently started by an oil-fired furnace, but said he did not know how the furnace was malfunctioning.

The airport services between 20 and 30 small private airplanes and is the larger of the county's two airstrips.

The airport's owner, Fred Bassler, could not be reached yesterday, but a state Aviation Administration official said he doubted the fire would force the airport to shut.

"I'm sure the airport can operate without the office," said Bruce Mundie, director of regional aviation assistance. Unlike larger airports, which have a central controller directing landings and takeoffs,small airfields use a common radio frequency for to announce arrivalor departure to pilots.

"What an airport of that size really needs is a runway and parking areas," Mundie said.

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