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Published: Wednesday, 8/18/2004

Brush fire envelops north-side mulch yard

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A firefighter, at right, is dwarfed by the Stickney Avenue blaze. A firefighter, at right, is dwarfed by the Stickney Avenue blaze.
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A fire that spread through a multiacre pile of brush and wooded debris at a North Toledo mulch yard was expected to keep city firefighters busy well into this morning, if not longer.

Nobody was hurt in the fire reported about 6 p.m. at Kurtz Brothers Inc., 5315 Stickney Ave., nor were any structures threatened. But Battalion Chief Frank Keating predicted a long battle to extinguish the blaze.

This is going to be an all-night [affair], maybe a couple of days. It depends on how well we do picking it apart with heavy equipment, he said, later adding, This fire has burrowed its way in.

Along with an estimated three dozen firefighters from seven fire stations, a four-man crew from the city Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor s demolition unit was on hand with backhoes and front-end loaders to paw through the burning brush, exposing hot spots to be douse. Kurtz Brothers workers joined in that effort with company equipment.

When I get to the stuff that s really hot, they spray my bucket and the embers to cool everything off, said Grant Stoll, a Kurtz worker from Sylvania who was using a front-end loader to carve a path around one side of the brush pile to improve firefighters access to the fire.

It s just a big campfire tonight, remarked Lt. Matt Hertzfeld of Engine Co. 17, who said fighting the fire would require perseverance pull it apart, put it out.

Flames occasionally flared as the machinery operators pulled the pile apart. Early on, Chief Keating said, crews cut a fire line on the east side of the brush pile to keep the fire from spreading to an adjoining woodlot.

The fire s cause was uncertain, but Mr. Stoll said he suspected a carelessly discarded cigarette. People who deliver brush and trees to the facility occasionally flick cigarette butts near the piles, he said, and twice Kurtz employees found and put out small fires believed to have started that way earlier this summer.

This time, Mr. Stoll said, the fire must have started out of sight and close to the end of the work day. We left at 5 p.m., and everything was all right, he said.

Chief Keating said the first fire units arriving on the scene used water from their trucks tanks to douse the flames closest to some Kurtz equipment on the property. The long-term firefighting effort required the set up two hose relays from hydrants on Stickney. A pond near the site was tapped for water too.

The fire sent a blaze of mustard-colored smoke billowing toward the western section of Washington Township. Chief Keating said rain would be welcomed, as long as it were not accompanied by high wind.

While no out-of-town fire units went to that scene, at least one mutual-aid call was made. Sylvania Township firefighters responded to a 9:12 p.m. investigation call at Upton Avenue and Wychwood Street.



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