Thursday, May 17, 2007
Freak fire shakes Waterford area
By SUE WATSON
The community of Waterford, located about eight miles south of Holly Springs, was surprised by a trail of fire that ran along about four miles of the Mississippi Central railroad track Monday afternoon.
The fire is believed to have been started by sparks showered from a rail car as the train moved along the tracks, according to Kenny Holbrook, chief of the Holly Springs Fire Department.
Spot fires were ignited about every quarter of a mile of track, he said, beginning about a quarter mile south of the town of Waterford and ending at Jones Grove Road. The train was stopped somewhere between Jones Grove and Holly Springs, he said.
Firefighters with the volunteer fire departments of Waterford, Potts Camp and the Holly Springs Fire Department fought the fire from about 1:35 p.m. until 6 p.m. and a second call for more water kept Holly Springs busy until about 7 p.m., he said.
Mississippi Forestry Service provided two bulldozers and DeSoto County sent a helicopter, piloted by Chuck Thomas of Holly Springs, to do aerial surveillance.
Holbrook said the aerial flyover provided crews on the ground with an overall picture from above that provided information on any structures that could be in danger.
“By the time they went up, we had pretty much all structures safe,” he said.
Dry conditions and wind caused the fires to spread quickly, Holbrook said. About 30 acres were believed to have been involved, including some trash pits.
There were a lot of areas heavily grown over along the tracks through Waterford and included debris and trash that accumulated over the years.
“Basically, there were trash dumps behind houses that made the fire more intense,” Holbrook said. “Two outside structures - a storage building and an outhouse - burned. All occupied dwellings were protected.”
Mt. Pleasant and Cayce Fire Departments sent backup firefighters to cover the city of Holly Springs while city crews worked the Waterford fires.
Holbrook said improper dumping of household furniture, trash and construction waste in gullies behind houses can cause an intense fire close to houses, such as was the case Monday.
“Proper disposal would eliminate some of these dangers,” he said.
Hugh Hollowell, Emergency Management coordinator for Marshall County, advised householders to be careful with fire. The county is not under a control burn; however, the county is below average in rainfall accumulation for the year.
“Be careful until we get rain,” he said. “We need a lot.”
The Holly Springs Fire Department responded to 22 calls for the week beginning May 7 and ending May 14: medical assistance calls (15); structure fires (1); motor vehicle accidents (2); commercial clothes dryer fire (1); false alarms (2); and grass fire (1).
Pontotoc, Union and Colhoun counties were under a burn ban Tuesday.
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