Multiple fire departments battle 90-acre inferno

Warren Dillaway, Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio
·2 min read

Mar. 27—ROME TOWNSHIP — More than 50 firefighters from 13 different departments battled a large brush fire that spread more then 90 acres along Callender Road on Thursday afternoon and evening, said Rome Township Fire Chief Ed Koziol.

Koziol said the blaze was reported at 4:14 p.m. He said the fire spread quickly even without the high winds that entered the area later in the evening.

"If that wind had come first ...," he said about not knowing how the fire would have been extinguished.

"I have been doing this for 50 years and this was the most difficult fire to fight," he said.

Koziol said the fire started at 2697 Callender Road and spread to four adjacent properties. No structures were at risk and nobody was injured.

Koziol said the property had been logged, but all the tree tops and branches were left "like a carpet." He said the property burned parallel to the Greenway Trail about a mile east of Route 45.

Firefighters and emergency workers from Harpersfield, Rome, Jefferson, South Central Ambulance District, Andover, Hartsgrove, Orwell, Wayne, Trumbull, Hambden, Montivelle (both in Geauga County), Morgan Hose and Dorset knocked down the fire that rose as high as 10 feet in the air.

"Everyone was departed from the scene by 9:25 p.m.," Koziol said. He said fire departments had more than an hour of clean-up work when they returned to the station and are facing large equipment repair bills.

Koziol said the fire had been started several days ago by the property owner who thought he had extinguished it. He said the Ohio Division of Wildlife has been called in because of the burn ban in place state-wide and will talk with the property owner.

"We are seeking restitution," Koziol said.

"There is a lot of damage to the off-road vehicles," he said. Koziol indicated there was as much as $4,000 damage to an all-terrain vehicle owned by the Wayne Fire Department.

"Ours is probably $1,500," Koziol said.

Koziol said a bulldozer was called in to help in firefighting efforts and helping free equipment that was stuck.

The fire was difficult to fight, especially when it got dark, Koziol said. He said there were places where firefighters had to use a chain saw to cut a path.

"There were 53 firefighters on the scene and 33 pieces of equipment," he said.