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Evacuated residents return home after 700 acres burned from Owings Mills fire

Evacuated residents return home after 700 acres burned from Owings Mills fire
Evacuated residents return home after 700 acres burned from Owings Mills fire 02:35

OWINGS MILLS -- Fire crews continue to mop up hotspots in the Soldiers Delight area in Owings Mills where a massive brush fire burned 700 acres.

The Baltimore County Fire Department said the fire sparked around 3 p.m. Tuesday in the area of Deer Park Road and Wards Chapel Road.

Fire crews were able to fully contain the fire overnight, confirming it through a tweet posted at 5:43 a.m. Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Stewart Richardson was home Tuesday when he noticed a big plume of smoke in the sky. 

From that moment on, it became a nerve-wracking day.

"It got like a western fire," Richardson said. "We had helicopters flying around with buckets. It was like, 'woah, this is serious.'"

More than 200 fire personnel from around the state, including some from Pennsylvania, helped in the fight to contain the eight-alarm fire.

More than two dozen homes evacuated over large brush fire at Soldiers Delight Park in Owings Mills 02:35

By Tuesday morning, the fire fight continued on ground and by air, with the National Guard dropping thousands of gallons of water.

At a briefing, Baltimore County Fire spokeswoman Elise Armacost said brush fires in this area can be pretty common, especially during this time of year.

However, they usually at most burn about four-to-five acres. 

Armacost said they haven't seen a fire of this magnitude since the 1970s.

With hotspots still being mopped up, road closures and evacuations were still in effect for most of the day. 

At least 29 homes were evacuated and told to take shelter at Franklin High School on Reisterstown Road.

At around 3 p.m., evacuated residents were given the green light to return home.

Overall, two outbuildings were destroyed, but no homes were damaged.

Baltimore County Fire Chief Joanne Rund thanked evacuees, saying their cooperation was critical.

"That is how we were able to save as much as we were able to save," Rund said. "You helped us. You actually cooperated with us and allowed us to get you out of the area."

With more brush fires expected, Gilbert Wagner, a fire specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, urged caution to be careful with any kind of fire.

Even with something as small as a cigarette.

"I've looked at the weather departures in the eastern shore, where I'm from, and it's down about five or six inches of rain for the year," Wagner said. "So, until we get some significant rain, there's always the chance [of a fire]. It happened yesterday, it could happen next week."

One firefighter did end up with a minor injury, but everyone's counting their blessings it wasn't worse.

"It turned out to be something that we'll remember for a long time, but thankfully, not for a tragedy," Richardson said.

The U.S. Forest Service will be working with the Baltimore County Fire Marshal's Office to determine the fire's cause.

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