Woods fire started accidentally

A fire that burned about 15 acres of wooded area on the west side of Columbus, near Grandview Lake, started accidentally.

A homeowner was burning stumps at the edge of the woods Saturday when the wind kicked up and carried hot embers into the woods, which caught pine needles and leaves on fire, said Billy Koons, Southwest Volunteer Fire Department’s chief.

Bartholomew County’s 911 dispatch center received a call about a fire in the 13000 block of Bellsville Pike at 5:02 p.m. Firefighters arrived on the scene about eight minutes later, Koons said.

About 1½ acres of woods were on fire initially, but the fire spread quickly because of the wind and pine needles, Koons said.

Extra fire personnel were called in to battle the blaze, Koons said. Seven other departments, including from Brown County, assisted.

The extra departments were vital to containing the fire because accessibility to the woods was difficult for the fire engines. Multiple sections fire hoses had to be connected to create one 800-foot section that could reach the woods, Koons said. Hoses are typically 200 feet, he added.

Firefighters needed about an hour to get the fire under control because the wind kept blowing hot embers deep into the woods and igniting hot spots, Koons said.

Burning material on a dry day is not advisable, Koons said, but when people burn material they should wet about 50 feet of ground and have water accessible.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.