Fire Chief Larry Helms is describing Friday’s brush fire as the biggest he’s seen during his career, and now investigators are ruling that fire suspicious.
The chief believes the brush fire started from a small fire that got out of hand, he said he doesn’t think it was malicious, probably accidental.
But, the blazes ripped through 5 to 10 acres in Wheeling, partially because of the red flag warning issued Friday by the forestry division.
That warning says absolutely no burning because of dry conditions and high winds that can cause fires like this one.
For many Wheeling firefighters this was their first time fighting a large brush fire.
Chief Helms said their department trains primarily in structural firefighting, so they took those tactics onto land. Crews attacked from the origin of the fire off Wagner Street and from the top from North Park off Eagle Court.
“Amazing work by our crews, you know, working in some of the steepest conditions in the city, and performing quite well, we had upwards of 7-thousand feet of hose stretched out,” said Chief Helms.
Two platoons responded, the other platoon manned other equipment to make sure firemen could respond to other calls.
On Saturday the chief says crews went back out, digging up stumps that were still hot. Investigators are following up on leads for suspects that could have been involved.