Firefighters battle large brush fire at Forest Hill Cemetery

Firefighters battle large brush fire at Forest Hill Cemetery

21 April 2010

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USA —    Utica firefighters spent more than two hours Wednesday battling a “deep-seated” brush fire in the southern portion of Forest Hill Cemetery on Oneida Street, Deputy Fire Chief Peter Caruso said.

Caruso said the fire, which was reported at about 5:15 p.m., was primarily located in a ravine in the oldest part of the cemetery grounds that was being used to dispose of green waste – somewhat like a compost heap but “on an enormous proportion.”

About 10 firefighters responded to the call, and stretched hoses from an adjacent parking lot to the site of the blaze. Flames from the fire burnt new growth on surrounding trees in addition to the compost material, Caruso said.

“Our biggest concern was we were losing the light and it was becoming dangerous for the firefighters to operate in this ravine,” Caruso said. “There was very uneven ground and just holes and ruts and a lot of things that could hurt us in there.”

No injuries were reported, however, and the fire was called under control just after 7 p.m.

Cemetery officials assisted in the firefighting efforts by sending an employee to operate a backhoe. That equipment was used to expose burning material so it could be hosed down, Caruso said.

Additional information on what caused the fire is expected to be released Thursday.

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