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Firefighters battle two new fires at long-burning dump


Firefighters have been called three times over the past week to combat fires in new mounds of mulch piled up at the western Baltimore County stump dump that has been burning since February, fire officials said.

Deputy Chief J. Edward Crooks of the Baltimore County Fire Department said firefighters from the Randallstown Fire Station were called about 3 p.m. July 2 and about 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday to battle fires that broke out in piles of mulch at the dump in the 8700 block of Dogwood Road.

He said the piles were formed when owner James F. Jett ground up new stumps taken into the dump.

Firefighters were at the scene about two hours for the first call, four hours for the second call and about an hour for the third call, he said. Both calls on Sunday were for the same fire, but firefighters had to return a second time to put out smoldering debris, he said.

The cause of the fires remains under investigation, Chief Crooks said.

He said the recent fires were 40 feet from the edge of the smoldering stumps and debris that have been burning since Feb. 2, much of it underground.

Michael P. Tanczyn, Mr. Jett's attorney, said his client called firefighters when he discovered the July 2 fire. The fire Sunday was discovered by fire officials making a periodic inspection, he said.

"We're as fed up with the fire over there as everyone else," he said.

But neighbors said yesterday that the relatively dry weather of the past few weeks has them concerned about the risk of fire spreading to neighboring woods and houses.

"The conditions are definitely more hazardous than they've ever been before," said Tom DeMay, president of the Greater Patapsco Community Association.

County attorney H. Emslie Parks sought a court order May 21 requiring Mr. Jett to shut down the operation because, he said, it posed a fire hazard.

Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr. declined to shut it down, but ordered Mr. Jett to clean up debris at the site, maintain a 100-foot buffer between new stumps and burning material, limit rTC the amount of debris he would accept and keep the height of the debris to 12 feet.

County attorneys went to court again June 17, charging that Mr. Jett had failed to live up to some of those conditions and seeking a shutdown order. But no hearing has been scheduled on that request.

Thomas K. Farley, assistant county attorney, said yesterday that he would write a letter to the court asking that it be scheduled as soon as possible.

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