Reporting Derek Valcourt
KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ)– Forced out by flames. Maryland families are evacuated as a brush fire moves in. That massive brush fire is still burning at this hour in Queen Anne’s County.
Derek Valcourt has more on the evacuations and when those people will be allowed to return home.
The fire is no longer a threat to the homes but there’s so much smoke still in the area. Firefighters say it’s too risky to let evacuated families go home.
The first reports of the fire came around 6 a.m. on Sunday as residents here in southern Kent Island first woke.
“I came outside and I looked and saw the smoke,” Donna Windsor said.
Soon hundreds of firefighters were battling a 40-acre six-alarm fire burning in a densely-wooded area just west of Romancoke Road near Kent Point Road and Route 8.
With winds fanning the flames and thick, dry underbrush providing plenty of fuel, firefighters had to call in help from surrounding counties and forestry service workers to gain control.
“We do have bulldozers cutting pathways and we’re taking firefighters back those paths. But it’s a long-involved process when you have a heavily-involved area like that,” Chief Kevin Aftung, chief of emergency operations for Queen Anne’s County, said.
As winds out of the southeast carried thick smoke, ash and embers into the neighborhood along Wicomico Road, emergency officials ordered the evacuation of 20 homes.
“It’s scary. We didn’t think it would come to this but here we go,” Wendy Canter said.
Canter and her family among the 50 to 60 people who grabbed what they could and left.
“We’re just getting all our cars and getting up the road and then we’ll figure something out,” she said.
By nightfall, the fire was under control and contained but the smoke still too thick for evacuated homeowners to return.
Displaced homeowners should be allowed to return to their homes Monday morning. Those who are not staying with relatives are staying the night at a nearby Elks Lodge. Firefighters are going to be keeping an eye on the what’s left of the blaze throughout the night.
One firefighter was injured. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.