Champion brush fire investigation: Campfire is possible cause of nearly 70 acres burned
The lack of rainfall in recent weeks is keeping Valley firefighters busy fighting brush fires.
The latest field fire broke out on nearly 70 acres of land on Nezbar Drive off State Road in Champion Township Sunday evening.
Firefighters from several surrounding fire departments and the Department of Forestry worked into the evening, putting out the flames.
Champion Fire Chief Tom Dempsey told 21 News that the current dry conditions were a "huge factor" in the spread of the fire, which is still under investigation. Dempsey said that what appeared to be a a campfire near the burn area's center is the leading potential cause for this fire.
The Ohio Division of Forestry was called in for additional manpower and equipment, using bulldozers to clear paths to help reduce the spread of the fire.
Additionally, the Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency helped on scene by using a drone to get a birds eye view of the fire.
“We were able to look over a much larger area rather than depending on guys on the ground and depending on their eyes and what they see,” Chief Tom Dempsey of the Champion Township Fire Department said. “We’re able to get the whole picture.”
Dempsey said that people need to use common sense with the dry conditions the Valley is currently experiencing. He said anyone stating a fire needs to make sure it is completely extinguished before leaving it unattended, saying that wind can carry hot embers from the fire to nearby grass or burnable materials.
Taking care of the brush fire wasn’t the only call the Champion Fire department handled that night. Just a few hours earlier they had to respond to a call of a car in a pond and a crash where someone was trapped in the car.
Chief Dempsey said when they get that many calls in a short amount of time the plan is to handle them as best as they can and take it one call at a time.
“With mutual aid partners it makes it easier but really we need staffing,” he said.
Currently the department has 7 full-time and 19 part-time employees. They typically get anywhere between 8 to 15 calls a day - which is stretching them thin.
“I think that not only is this a safety issue for our members but I think it’s a safety issue for the citizens of champion,” Chief Dempsey said.
Dempsey is working with trustees to bring in more full time employees to help the call volume they are getting.
“Every time the bell goes off we have a duty to act and we do the best job that we can,” he said.
Trumbull County wasn't the only place with a brush fire in recent days. On Saturday, the Windsor Fire Department called for help from three counties to battle a 50-acre field fire in southern Ashtabula County.
Last Wednesday, Firefighters from several departments in Trumbull County assisted crews from Ashtabula County fight flames that spread from a portable sawmill to a wooded area in Andover.
Three firefighters received minor injuries.