A 110-acre bushfire in Brown County State Park that started Sunday night is under control after firefighters from several volunteer departments and a state agency worked to surround it with a fire line.
The park remains open and visitors may still see some smoke until rain or snow clears the last smoldering remnants, officials said. No structures were damaged.
The fire started around 5:30 p.m. Sunday on the east side of the park in a secluded area away from any buildings. Firefighters from Southern Brown Volunteer, Hamblen Township Volunteer and the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Departments, along with employees from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and conservation officials, arrived at the scene Sunday night.
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By Monday, volunteer crews had left and 10 members of the DNR firefighting unit were able to complete a 2.97-mile fire line around the blaze to prevent it from spreading anywhere else in the 15,815-acre park.
Crews used leaf blowers and chain saws to remove fallen leaves and other sources of fuel, and used nearby horse trails as firebreaks, said DNR’s state fire safety coordinator Darren Bridges.
“The line averages about two and a half feet wide, and we’ve been working to bring the scrub and foliage down to the mineral soil,” Bridges said. “The fire will not come across unless a mighty wind comes.”
The crew has yet to determine the cause of the fire, but Bridges said there are many recreational trails in the area and it’s likely it started near one of them.
There will still be smoke inside the enclosed area as large dead trees and other “heavy fuels” finish burning, Bridges said, so visitors shouldn’t be alarmed. The fire will likely continue to burn until the area sees a significant rain or snow event, but it will not threaten any buildings.
The National Weather Service forecast showers in Brown County on Thursday evening and heavier rains on Saturday evening. The predicted rains should be enough to put out the fire, Bridges said.
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The bushfire was in rough terrain, so firefighters couldn’t use water and instead caused the disruption. Crews were able to wet the boundaries of the horse trails, Bridges said, because the DNR vehicles could use them to get to the fire.
Marty Benson, deputy director of communications at DNR, wrote in an email on Wednesday that park staff will continue to monitor the fire.
“Park recreation facilities continue to function normally as they did during the fire,” Benson wrote.
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Hoosiers can report bush or forest fires to DNR’s statewide dispatch by calling 812-837-9536. The best information responders can get is GPS coordinates, Bridges said.
“People see (fire) from a long distance and it’s hard to pinpoint that,” Bridges said. “The closer they can get to the fire and give us a good position, like e.g. B. crossing sections or similar will help.”
Fire season typically kicks off around Halloween, Bridges said, when oak and hickory trees shed their leaves. In early fall, when only maples and polar trees are shedding leaves, this isn’t a big concern unless an area is suffering from severe drought.
IndyStar’s environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.