Man’s death sparks alerts on brush fires

Man’s death sparks alerts on brush fires

02 April 2008

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Anne Arundel fire officials are warning residents of the dangers of brush fires after a man died trying to put one out.

“In light of a very recent fatality, we wanted to make sure that the tragedy didn’t get repeated, and express the importance of safety,” said Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia.

Last week, an 82-year-old man, whose name was not released, tried to burn brush in a barrel in Harwood when the fire escaped and lit some nearby tall grass, Tobia said.

When the man tried to stomp out the flames, his clothing caught fire. He suffered critical burns from which he died.

Early spring is the beginning of brush fire season, as the high winds combine with dry weather to make favorable fire conditions, Tobia said.

During the peak of the brush fire season, Anne Arundel handles five to 10 fires a day.

Tobia said a permit issued by the County Health Department is needed before starting a fire.

The state also is warning residents, noting that statewide, fire departments respond to 660 wildfires that consume more than 3,600 acres, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

DNR reports that 30 percent of the state’s wildfires are caused by the burning of outdoor debris.

“Homeowners also have a responsibility for wildfire preparedness in order to minimize and prevent losses,” Monte Mitchell, DNR’s fire supervisor, said in a written statement.

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