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A Non-Hallowed Night of Fire

November 1, 2012

To hallow is “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate”. But, there was nothing about what happened last night in Stafford County that was hallow.

The evening started pleasant enough. The weather was absolutely perfect for the children to go door-to-door trick or treating. Unfortunately, trick or treating wasn’t enough fun for some.

Several years ago a number of trees alongside Old Highway 50 were cut down to improve safety for those traveling the road. After being cut the trees were pushed into large piles. Last year one of those tree piles was set ablaze on Halloween night. Apparently, last night somebody decided that was an act that needed an encore.

Just before eight-thirty the Dispatcher paged firefighters to the large tree pile fire west of Stafford. Those who set the fire had given it a healthy start – flames were already shooting one hundred feet upwards into the starlit night sky.

Showers of embers were swirling in the heat currents above the fire. The concern of firefighters was tall CRP grass on both sides of the roadway and a newly constructed home on the nearby hillside. Firefighters knew this was going to be an all-night affair.

At about the one hour mark another fire was dispatched. This fire was on Broadway Street in the City of Stafford. Somebody had stuffed a square hay bale into some car tires, sat it on top of a wooden crate, doused it with gasoline, and set it afire. Fire crews responded, but before they could arrive a Law Enforcement officer used an fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

As the fire crews headed back towards the tree fire – off went the dispatch tone again. This time the message was; “House on fire!”

An uninhabited 4-bedroom 2-story home in the City of Stafford was on fire. The first arriving emergency crews reported there was fire coming from all openings – windows, doors, and cracks of any kind. The degree of involvement made it impossible for firefighters to immediately extinguish the fire. Like the tree fire this one was a challenge just to control the embers that were swirling hundreds of feet upwards in the heat currents.

Firefighters remained on scene early into the next morning. Please contact the City of Stafford Police Department if you have any information relating to these fires.

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