Crews from three counties respond to Newell fire

SMOKING HILLSIDE — This view from Race Track Road in Newell shows a billow of smoke as crews from a dozen area fire departments worked to extinguished a fire on a hillside on Trotter Drive Thursday afternoon. -- Steve Rappach

NEWELL — Close to a dozen fire crews from three counties covering two states worked Thursday afternoon to extinguish a blaze that charred a large portion of a hillside in Hancock County.

Officials say the fire on property on Trotter Lane, accessible via Race Track Road, was the result of a pile of manure catching fire. It spread to a portion of the hillside, just above a facility used as stables for race horses.

Smoke billowing from the top of the hill could be seen from as far away as the entrance to Race Track Road. Firefighters traveled up the hilltop to extinguish the blaze, which damaged a portion of land estimated at 300-400 feet wide and another 200 feet up the hillside.

Newell Assistant Fire Chief Tim Steele said both the Newell and New Manchester volunteer departments received the call around 1:27 p.m., which he said came from a passing motorist. Crews were unaware of how large the fire was until they arrived at the scene.

“It just came in that there was a pile of manure burning is how we got our call,” Steele said. “They didn’t tell us how big of a scale it was.

“… New Manchester was automatically toned with us because of the time of the day, and so we responded with our tanker and our engine. They came with a brush truck and a mule.”

Steele said once he and the rest of the crew were on scene and saw the size of the fire, he contacted county Emergency Management Director Jeremy Ober, who then called for backup from neighboring counties.

Among the West Virginia departments assisting were Lawrenceville, New Cumberland and Oakland from Hancock County; Franklin, Hooverson Heights, Colliers, Bethany, Beech Bottom, and Bethany Pike from Brooke County. Liverpool Township, from Columbiana County in Ohio, also was at the scene.

Two 2,100-gallon portable tanks were set up at the top of the hill for the participating crews to unload tankers of water, some of whom made several trips on the roadway. Other firefighters, meanwhile, stood at the hillside as they extinguished the fire, working for more than four hours.

Paramedics from Ambulance Service Inc. and Chester and Newell EMTs also were placed on standby. Chester fire crews also were on standby and handled emergency calls for Newell during that time. Hancock County sheriff’s deputies handled traffic along Race Track Road.

No injuries were reported, and the name of the property owner was not immediately available.

No exact cause was determined, but Steele said the fire may have smoldered for some time before the call.