Wildfires sparked from campfire, controlled burn

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY — An unattended campfire caused a blaze in a wooded area of southwestern Bartholomew County that firefighters from two counties had to battle for more than three hours Sunday.

About 12 acres burned after smoldering embers of a campfire started by kids Saturday night were carried by the wind into an area with dry vegetation, Southwest Volunteer Fire Department Chief Billy Koons said.

Sunday’s fire was the second in two days in a wooded area that Southwest and other local fire departments had to battle. They fought another woods fire Saturday in the 13000 block of West Bellsville Pike. It started when embers from tree stumps that a homeowner was burning were carried by the wind into the dry vegetation of the woods.

Southwest firefighters responded to a call of a fire in the 12000 block of County Road 800W at about 2:58 p.m. Sunday. They were later joined by five other fire departments from Bartholomew and Brown counties, because access to the remote wooded area was difficult, in part due to steep inclines and rocky areas that contributed to two fire trucks breaking down, Koons said.

Firefighters used leaf blowers to create 10-foot fire breaks, and portable 5-gallon water packs to spray water on the fire because fire hoses couldn’t reach all parts of the fire, Koons said.

Firefighters got the fire extinguished after about 3-and-a-half hours, but had to return to the area at about 7:47 p.m. and battle it again for another hour after it rekindled, Koons said.

Koons urged residents to use caution when burning anything, and not to do so in windy or dry conditions.