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Brush fire at outskirts of Oakland Cemetery

PRINCETON — Princeton firefighters used an estimated 2,975 gallons of water with foam concentrate to extinguish a Thursday afternoon brush fire at Oakland Cemetery on the southwest edge of Princeton.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined, according to Princeton Fire Chief John Petrakis. The cause of brush and grass fires is difficult to determine due to their lack of evidence and personal accounts, he said.

On Friday, Petrakis said the Princeton Fire Department was dispatched at 12:05 p.m. Thursday to the cemetery where they found a working brush fire on the west end of the cemetery, along both sides of a creek bed and moving southeast. Due to wind conditions, the growing fire volume, and access challenges, fire department officials escalated the alarm assignment at 12:30 p.m. to call for mutual aid from MABAS Division 57 affiliates.

The fire companies attacked the brush fire from the slopes of the east and west creek beds, Petrakis said. Access was hindered by the steep hills and thick brush. Dry ground cover, such as leaves, branches, fallen trees and other vegetation, provided an extinguishment and access challenge to the firefighters. As another complication, winds of approximately 18 miles per hour contributed to the fire spread, Petrakis added.

The fire was extinguished at about 1:30 p.m., with no injuries to firefighters, Petrakis said. The fire was contained to the culvert and there was no danger to the grave sites or any houses, he said.

As requested by the Princeton Street Department, fire crews remained on the scene to assist with a 50-foot tall tree that appeared to have sustained fire spread from the interior of the tree up to its top, Petrakis said. Smoke and flame was visible at the top portion of the tree. After the tree was taken down by a private tree removal contractor, fire crews applied water and foam mixture to the remains of the tree.

The Princeton Fire Department responded to the scene with one engine company, two brush fire attack units, an ambulance, and one incident commander. A total of 14 firefighters were at the scene, with mutual aid companies from the Bureau and Tiskilwa fire departments. The Malden Fire Department provided change of quarter’s station coverage.

The Princeton Police Department provided traffic control at the scene and the Princeton Street Department provided heavy equipment for brush and tree removal.

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