PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth Fire Department (PFD) has implemented relentless effort to keep a brush fire contained which reportedly infiltrated hills on both sides of Poplar Street and Mabert Road in Portsmouth. PFD crews arrived in on the scene shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday morning.
Chris Lowery, captain of PFD, told The Daily Times that the darkness of the early morning hour stifled the PFD’s ability to gain access to the brush fire which began to move through the area.
“This fire call came in at about 2 a.m. this morning (Saturday), and fire crews were on the scene, but were unable, due to the darkness and the steepness of the terrain where it started which is the south face, facing Auto Zone and McDonald’s there,” Lowery said. “We were unable to gain access as it burned throughout the night, and daylight came, the wind changed and it started pushing north here along the ridge here on both sides of Poplar and Mabert. What has been our biggest concern is protecting the houses on both sides.”
A man who will not be identified at this time, was spotted in the area by authorities. However, the cause of the fire, is currently under investigation, according to Lowery.
“Last evening, at about the same time that this fire call came in, and Portsmouth Police and the Portsmouth Fire Department responded, there was a gentlemen on the south face where the fire originated from,” he said. “And whether or not he set the fire is under investigation.”
As the daylight drifted on Saturday evening, he said crews would continue throughout the night and into Sunday.
“We are running out of daylight right now, so it will probably continue into tomorrow morning, when we can get more crewmen up there, because right now all I have is the guys that are on duty, and the guys that I have called in just to protect the houses,” he said.
He said the method being utilized to extinguish the fire is called a fire break.
“What the crews are doing is either stomping the fire out with the equipment, or they are actually doing what is called a fire break,”he said. “You can see the fire burning down the vegetation, or dried up vegetation, and they are digging out a ditch basically, so the fire hits the dirt, and stops burning. So what we do is try to put a fire break around the fire to keep it from spreading further down.”
No homes have been impacted by the brush fires.
“When we first started this morning we had a couple of guys in the front, on that north/south side where it started, the one on the Mabert side, and then the one on the Poplar side, and we kept on rotating back and forth seeing where we needed people,” he said.”The side of Mabert road has kind of gotten to the point where it’s climbing up, big time on the ravine, but not impacting anybody’s property, or actual structure or house property. So we are going to bring the rest of the crews over here, to try to keep this from coming down hill here.”
The ultimate goal is to do everything possible to make sure that the flames do not reach down to homes in the area. He anticipates PFD will continue working at the scene for at least two more days.
“One thing that I told a lady that lives over in the house nearby, is that, “”If it comes down near your house, we will be right there,” “he said. “This is probably going to take a couple of days. One thing that we have going for us is the time of year. This is not your dry, brush fall season, this is the season where everything is coming out green which does not burn. If this was in the fall where things are dead, and dying and dry, what we are seeing now would have been done in just a matter of hours, we would have really been chasing this thing, which we have done before. But this time of year when there is a lot of green, they burn a lot slower. There hasn’t been much movement in a few hours.”