By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
Winter’s officially over!
That’s the good news.
The downside to the balmy weather is the brisk wind.
Those breezes helped blow the lid off brush fire season, which kicked off this weekend as at least 26 wildfires burning untold acres threatened homes in rural areas of Mercer and surrounding counties, according to 911 supervisor and former Hempfield Township Chief Marc Palmiter.
“It has been a busy weekend,” Palmiter said Sunday night.
He counted 26 fires that were reported to 911.
These included large fires in Crawford County north of Greenville and in Shenango Township, Lawrence County, which was “supposed to be a huge one,” he said.
The fire at 174 Cranberry Road in Pine Township was also a big one that kept firefighters busy Sunday. It started about 1:30 p.m. and burned several acres.
Another fire, this one in Brookfield Township, burned about five acres north of Custer-Orangeville Road.
It was “the first nice day of the year and people start burning,” Brookfield Firefighter Matt Gordon said.
“We had our hands full for a minute,” he said.
He reminded Ohio residents that the state doesn’t allow “open burning” and that violators could be cited if caught.
“We could have burned down five homes today,” Gordon said.
If people do burn, “be smart about it,” he said.
“If it’s windy and dry,” don’t even think about starting a fire, he said.
Pamiter agreed with Gordon.
“When the wind’s blowing this hard this early in the season, don’t burn,” he said.