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UPDATE: Crews Battle Forest Fires in Kanawha, Lincoln, Boone Counties

By: Brooks Jarosz; Josh McComas; Andrew Colegrove; Katelyn Sykes Email
By: Brooks Jarosz; Josh McComas; Andrew Colegrove; Katelyn Sykes Email

UPDATE 11/20/12 @ 6:15 p.m.
LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Brush fires are burning across the region, leaving firefighters spending countless hours out in the woods.

Kanawha, Lincoln and Boone counties are just some of the areas where fires were burning Tuesday. According to the West Virginia Division of Forestry, putting them out takes a lot of work.

"We rake all the leaves away so they don't burn, and then we set fire to the leaves that are still there and burn them back towards the main fire," said Charlie Spencer with the West Virginia Division of Forestry. "And that effectively widens our control line because we control the fire at that point."

Taking control can take the most time. A forest fire along Big Ugly Creek Road in Lincoln County started about 6 p.m. Monday. It was only about 10 acres but spread to about 60 acres by Tuesday.

Fire crews said they can't survey the area at night, so they had to wait until Tuesday morning. Then, about 14 fire crews started building those control lines.

"We look for creeks, roads -- sometimes mining operations can become a buffer for us, and we tie into those objects with our control lines that we construct with leaf blowers and rakes," Spencer said.

Those lines keep the fire from spreading any further. But sometimes they run into obstacles, and their biggest is fallen trees. Superstorm Sandy and the derecho in June caused trees to topple over, so crews have to get them out of the way while keeping the fire from spreading.

"It takes us longer when we're having to use chainsaws to cut trees and pick them up, then move them out of the way," Spencer said. "It takes a lot longer than just blowing the leaves away."

While it's taken them longer, they're making progress. The fire in Lincoln County was 90 percent contained by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire in Twilight, Boone County, burned about 1,000 acres. It's 100 percent contained.



UPDATE 11/19/12 @ 11 p.m.
BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Forestry crews say they’ve contained a brush fire in the town of Twilight in Boone County that spread to a thousand acres.

Charlie Spencer with the West Virginia Division of Forestry says the fire was caused by a burning coal seam that caught leaves on fire.

Debbie Hash uses an oxygen machine. She says since the forest fire started Saturday, just breathing has been hard.

"I haven't been out for two days now,” Hash said. “I come out, I start coughing. I go back in and cough forever. Your eyes are burning inside your home. It's not good."

Forestry crews have spent the past three days working on containing the fire and say it will take a while to burn itself out.

There's a creek between the burning hillside and the homes in Twilight, so Spencer says no one is in danger.

Forestry crews will be moving to Big Ugly Creek Road in Lincoln County Tuesday morning where another brush fire has begun spreading.



UPDATE 11/19/12 @ 4:05 p.m.
BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Firefighters are still battling back flames of a brush fire in Boone County.

The fire broke out Saturday about 2 p.m. in the Twilight area. A burning coal seam caught leaves on fire.

The Division of Forestry says the fire is almost contained. They hope to have it put out sometime tomorrow.

The Division of Forestry has planes in the air searching for new fires. One was reported in the Buffalo Creek area of Logan County, Monday afternoon.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 11/18/12
BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Crews are battling a major forest fire that's nearly 1,000 acres.

The fire was reported about 2 p.m. Saturday in the Twilight area of Boone County.

Charlie Spencer with the West Virginia Division of Forestry tells WSAZ.com a burning coal seam caught leaves on fire. Spencer says 15 crew members are still battling the flames.

Officials say no homes are at risk. They're using a bulldozer to clear roads of trees and debris. The smoke can be seen for several miles.

Forest crews suggest not burning since there hasn't been much rain. They say if you do have to burn it should be done after 5 p.m.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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