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Wildfire consumes 100 acres; expected to burn throughout night

Times Observer photos by Brian Ferry A firefighter returns to the area of Mickleson Lane in Watson Township from the front of a Thursday wildfire.

A wildfire blazed through a swath of Watson Township on Thursday and was expected to continue burning through the night.

The call for a vegetation fire on Allegheny National Forest land went out at about noon.

Windy conditions led to difficulty containing the fire and by 6 p.m., it had consumed about 100 acres in the area of Cobham Hill Road, east of the Allegheny River. Officials on the scene said there has not been a wildfire of that size on the ANF in more than a decade. There was another 100-plus acre fire in Warren County at the same time.

Personnel at the Watson Township scene were ready to attack the fire on the ground, but were instructed to stay back until it was safe for them to do so.

“A hand-dug line was not holding,” DCNR Fire Forester Jay Lindemuth said. “We disengaged for firefighter safety. It’s not safe to go in there with the wind.”

“The resources we have here… they’re ready to go as soon as the weather lets us,” he said.

One structure in the path of the fire was safe, with an area burned around it, Lindemuth said.

“Structures have been threatened,” ANF Fire Public Information Officer Wendy Andersen said. “No structures have been lost. Some residents won’t be able to get to their homes if they live close to the fire.”

ANF personnel were set up in front of private buildings just east of the fire line to help protect those properties in case the fire turned.

See Friday’s edition for complete coverage.

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