Brush fire roars through field

Meranda Watling

Firefighters from 21 area departments battle a brush fire in a field on state Route 59 yesterday afternoon. The fire shutdown part of Route 59 by Wal-Mart for more than an hour while fire crews battled the spreading fires. No one was injured and no proper

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Traffic on state Route 59 past Route 261 was blocked for nearly two hours yesterday afternoon as fire departments from Ravenna Township and 20 neighboring areas struggled to extinguish a large brush fire.

Smoke from the fire, which burned 10 acres next to the Portage Metropolitan Housing Authority on state Route 59, could be seen from Kent.

No one was injured and no property was damaged in the fire, said Steven Bosso, fire chief of the Ravenna Township Fire Department. The cause of the fire was weather-related.

“Brush fires are real common this time of year; we’ve had maybe a dozen in the last few weeks,” Bosso said.

Those fires were smaller and easy to contain, he said. The large size of the field and the wind made putting out yesterday’s fire more difficult.

Ravenna Township was the first to respond to the call, which came in at 2:51 p.m. Bosso said every fire department in Portage County except Kent and Windham were called to help battle the fire, which was extinguished at about 4:30 p.m. All together 81 people came out.

Phil Anders, captain of the Ravenna Township Fire Department, said the wind was a major factor in extinguishing the fire.

“The wind conditions carry the fire deeper and deeper,” Anders said. “We have to keep moving apparatuses to accommodate.”

Bosso said the firefighters were also having trouble getting to the fire because it was so far back in the field.

Firefighters had to break down the brush to pull the hoses through to the fire. Because there was no water access behind the field, water had to be pumped from the street, through hoses and to trucks waiting at the back closer to the fire.

The wind was both a hindrance and a help in eventually putting the fire out.

While the wind kept picking up and spreading the fire, it also moved it to an area the fire departments could reach, said Tim Morgan, assistant fire chief of the Ravenna Township Fire Department.

“The fire was burning across the top of a swamp,” Morgan said. “We couldn’t get to it. The problem was to establish a perimeter and wait for the fire to come to us.

“The hardest part to overcome was just getting access to it.”

Contact public affairs reporter Meranda Watling at [email protected].