JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
GOODY, Ky. - Pike County Emergency Services Director Doug Tackett says a fire that began Tuesday near Food City is thought to be the result of arson.
Pike County Sheriff’s Deputy Belfry Volunteer Fire Department member James Earl Williams said the department had just finished their annual fireworks show near Southside Mall when they spotted some railroad ties on fire. The department was able to douse the fire quickly.
“They knocked it down, and even checked the site with thermal imaging,” Doug Tackett said. “Then at about 4 a.m., we received a call that the fire had started again.” All the ties were engulfed when firefighters arrived, he added.
Tackett said the fire was not on railroad property, and it is unclear who owns the railroad ties that were on fire.
Fifty firefighters and five fire departments in addition to Belfry were on the scene of the blaze - Big Creek, Upper Pond, Turkey Creek, Blackberry and the department from Coal Run Village, which has a CAFS, or compressed air foam system on one of their trucks.
Although somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 gallons of water were used to fight the fire, Tackett said the foam was especially well suited for the fire.
“We didn’t want to use a lot of water, although we had to,” he explained. “With those ties, there was a lot of creosote, and it would have leached into the creek. By using the foam, we were able to contain it into the ground. It’s really the only way to fight a fire like that.”
The Environmental Protection Agency was notified, due to the chemicals at the scene. Tackett said there was a substantial amount of debris, that the site may have once been a junkyard.
Firefighters were on the scene 12 hours before they could get the fire contained. The burned material was separated from unburned ties, Tackett said, and the fire was left to burn itself out.
He said some power lines were damaged, and a pole had to be replaced, causing a power outage to the neighboring homes and businesses.
Williams said one of Belfry’s firefighters sustained a minor injury and was treated by Appalachian First Response on the scene. Pike County District Six road foreman, Danny Branham and crew member Robert Booth brought two pieces of equipment to the scene to help contain the fire.
In addition to mutual aid from the other departments and Mingo County Emergency Services, Williams said the BVFD wanted to thank the citizens who brought water and food out to the scene.
“This meant and helped tremendously due to the heat and humidity,” he said.
The fire remains under investigation, Tackett said.