Blaze races across Acorn Hill

Bob Clark

North Hornell firefighters were still fighting small flare-ups on Acorn Hill on Thursday morning after a brush fire consumed five acres Wednesday afternoon.

According to Steuben County Fire Investigator Michael Gilman, the fire aboe the homes on Fawn Hill Drive was reported at around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. By the middle of the afternoon, 13 fire companies from between Nunda and Bath had been called to the scene, with 17 vehicles and 110 firefighters battling the blaze.

“We were there until about 8 o’clock last night,” he said.

No homes were damaged in the blaze, according to Gilman, though one home was threatened early on in the fire’s progression.

According to Acorn Hill resident Carol Seager, her family and business were evacuated for three hours.

“We have a proprietary home for adults up here,” she said this morning. “We had the ultimate fire drill.”

Seager, who was able to better survey the damage this morning, said the fire was surprisingly close.

“It was a little closer to the house than we thought,” she said.

A stiff breeze, a dried-out forest floor and a steep hillside made firefighting difficult, Gilman said.

“It’s been bouncing around,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re trying to get her slowed down.

Weather conditions that made the firefighting difficult Wednesday are not expected to let up.

“It’s going to be dry like this all week,” Gilman added.

This is the third brush fire in the area within the last two days. A small fire was reported outside Stephens Mills Tuesday, and a second blaze flared up outside of Howard earlier Wednesday.

The Steuben County Office of Emergency Services issued a statement Wednesday afternoon strongly advising against any open burning in the county.

“With no leaves on the trees, the forest floor becomes very dry and vulnerable to fire,” Emergency Services Deputy Director Tim Marshall said.

An Avoca firefighter was transported to St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell for heat exhaustion.

“He’s all right,” Gilman said this morning.

No cause for the blaze has been determined, Gilman said, adding his office will be on the scene later today to investigate further.

Seager said she was not burning any garbage at the time and did not know how the fire started.

“The Finger Lakes Trail is through there, but those type of people are generally environmentally-friendly and don’t litter,” she said, adding firefighters asked if anyone was hunting on the property at the time. “We only hunt during hunting season.”

The Evening Tribune