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February 16, 2011

Md. Forest Service watching two big marsh fires

The Maryland DNR Forest Service is investigating the causes of two wildfires this week that have burned more than 3,500 acres of marshland in Dorchester County. Both fires have been brought Transquaking Riverunder control, but continue to burn.

"We typically get large marsh fires at this time of year," said state fire supervisor Monte Mitchell. "With the conditions we had on Monday, with gusts from 20 to 40 mph, low relative humidity and dry fuel conditions, it's a recipe for large fires."

The two big fires were among 12 wildfires the Forest Service has tackled already this week on the Eastern Shore, in Dorchester, Caroline, Kent, Talbot and Somerset counties. Most were small and they were extinguished quickly.

No injuries were reported in any of the fires. But one fire Monday near Andrews, in Dorchester County, destroyed 5 acres of woodland, 32 acres of marsh, and two sheds. A hunting lodge was saved by fire fighters from the local volunteer company and the Forest Service. Fishing Bay 

Both of the large marsh fires began Monday. The largest, dubbed the Irish Creek fire, has charred more than 2,900 acres in the Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area, about four miles south of Bestpitch.

The second fire, named the Thorofare fire, burned across 590 acres less than a mile south of Bestpitch along the Transquaking River.

"Both are under investigation at this time," Mitchell said. "I don't want to speculate as to what the cause would be." But there was no lightning and there is nothing out there that would ignite a fire of its own accord, he said.

"Fires like that are suspicious in nature," he said. 

Because of the fires' inaccessibility, two fire fighters were dispatched by boat with orders to confine and monitor the fires until the blazes burn themselves out, making sure they do not threaten  woodlands or houses, Mitchell said.

The risk of wildfires continues this week, Mitchell said. "It looks like the winds are going to die down some after today. That's good. For the rest of the week it looks like we're still going to have dry conditions ... Fires ignite easily and spread easily under these conditions."

(PHOTO: Kayakers on the Transquaking River, Perry Thorsvik, 1997)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events


Wednesday evening, February 23, there is a tremendous fire - visible from just south of Easton to just west of Salisbury. The origin seems to be due south of Linkwood, MD. Does anyone know if this began as a forest or a marsh fire? The horizon is covered in black smoke which appears to reach over the Chesapeake Bay.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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