Berea fire

A wildfire that began Saturday in the Owsley Fork area of Madison County, shown above and at left, burned almost 200 acres of land before being extinguished. The blaze began after a small fire lit by a man burning leaves spilled out into the forest, officials said. Several departments worked to extinguish the blaze.

A fire that burned about 200 acres and took four fire departments to battle has been extinguished.

Lt. Jim Cox of the Madison County Fire Department said crews were called at about 2:41 p.m. Saturday.

The fire began in the Owsley Fork area, said Jim Parke, Madison County Fire Chief, and consumed many acres very quickly.

When crews arrived on the scene by 3 p.m., 125 acres already had burned, he said.

The blaze began after a small fire lit by a man burning leaves spilled out into the forest and, fueled by wind, consumed the dry leaf litter and downed trees from recent ice storms with speed, Parke said.

The fire grew, consuming between 175 to 200 acres, he said.

Although the fire began near Owsley Fork, it wound its way to the Red Lick Road area and may have spilled over into Jackson County, Parke said. Crews were on the scene battling the forest fire until 1:30 a.m. Sunday, he said.

“The Kentucky Forestry Service brought in bulldozers and built a fire line,” he said.

A fire line, Parke said, is a swath of dirt free from leaf litter and other flammable debris that helps stop a fire. Once a fire reaches the bare earth, it cannot burn and the fire will be contained.

This fire line, combined with the fact that the wind died down, helped contain the fire, he said.

Parke also said that a light rain Saturday night, a damp day on Sunday and fog on Monday all helped to extinguish the fire. He cautioned, however, that some sections may smolder for days and the area should be avoided.

Firefighters and forestry officials returned to the area Sunday to make sure any lingering flames or hot coals would not re-ignite.

The fire was challenging to fight because it burned areas remote and difficult to access, Parke said.

“It was a pretty intense fire for the time it lasted — 200 acres is a pretty big fire,” he said.

In addition to the Madison County Fire Department and the Department of Forestry, the Waco Volunteer Fire Department, the Red Lick Volunteer Fire Department and the Berea Fire Department also responded.

Cox said that about 35 to 40 people worked to fight the flames.

“They did quite a heckuva job,” he said.

Although the fire did endanger some houses, no structure was lost and there were no injuries to bystanders, residents of the area or firefighters, Parke said.

He said he did not expect to file criminal charges against the man who may have started the fire.

And, Parke said, although Madison County has lifted an outdoor burn ban in place for most of October, he recommended that unless absolutely necessary, no one have fires outdoors.

Although the county has received rain in the past few weeks, conditions are very dry and fires can quickly go out of control, he said.

Parke said he would be meeting with Madison County Judge-Executive Kent Clark to determine if reinstating the burn ban was necessary.

Emily Burton may be reached at eburton@richmondregister.com or at 624-6694. Follow Emily on Twitter at RR_EBurton@twitter.com

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