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Wildfire threatens 10 homes near Mount Sherman

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By Linda Ireland

A fiery disaster was averted Thursday, thanks to the rapid response of local firefighters and several Buffalo residents. Ten homes were endangered by an out-of-control field fire.

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Just after noon, Buffalo, Magnolia and LaRue firefighters were dispatched to a field fire off Mount Tabor Road. The flames, fanned by strong 25-miles-per-hour wind and fueled by dry brush and grass, spread quickly into yards and jumped the roadway in the 3100 block.

Dean Salyer said he was sitting on his couch, watching T.V., when he heard his dog barking.

He looked outside and thought his mobile home was on fire.

“My heart was a ‘flying,” he said. “I tried to unhook the dog, but the smoke was too thick.”

Salyer grabbed the garden hose, which he had not stored for the winter, and began spraying the flames that were inching toward his home. He thinks the few minutes saved by having the water hose at hand saved his car and home.

Salyer’s dog appeared nervous after the ordeal but seemed to be recovering.

There were other close calls.

Four houses down, an English Spaniel in an outdoor run barked in panic as firefighters put out the flames just before they reached its pen.

At another house, fire scorched the area around a chicken coop while the hens inside squawked.

Billy England, the hens’ owner, spotted the smoke when he was driving home from Mount Sherman. He used a shovel to beat back the flames edging toward his house.

Timmy Underwood said he nearly lost two homes and two outbuildings. The field fire reached the backyard of his principle residence, then skirted another home and jumped the roadway, heading directly toward his second home.

Buffalo firefighter Troy Wilmoth said some fences and a couple of doghouses were damaged.

Firefighters are not sure what caused the fire.

Spring fire season

Kentucky law designates Feb. 15-April 30 as spring forest fire hazard season.  During this time, it is illegal to burn anything within 150-feet of any woodland or brushland between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.  The law is intended to prevent forest fires by allowing outdoor burning only after 6 p.m. when conditions are less likely to cause a wildfire to spread.

Arson and burning of trash and debris are the most common causes of wildfire, according to the governor’s office.

Last year, more than 54,000 acres burned in Kentucky.  In 2010 wildfires also destroyed nine houses and 31 structures in the state.

• Avoid burning debris during fire hazard seasons and during times of dry, windy conditions.  Outdoor burning is illegal between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland during forest fire hazard seasons.

• Completely extinguish all campfires and debris piles. Never leave a fire unattended and always extinguish fires if conditions become too windy.  The smallest spark can lead to a dangerous wildfire.

• Properly extinguish smoking materials. Put out cigarettes, cigars, or pipes only in cleared areas free of vegetation or debris.

• Avoid parking cars, trucks or recreational vehicles on dry vegetation.  The exhaust system on a vehicle can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees, which is hot enough to start a wildfire during our current dry season.

• Report suspicious acts of arson to the nearest Kentucky State Police post or call the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON. 

For more information, contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry at 1-800-866-0555 or visit http://forestry.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx.