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Officials investigating origins of brush fire at Coopers Rock State Forest

BRUCETON MILLS – Officials said a large brush fire at Coopers Rock State Forest is now controlled and they are investigating where and how the fire started.

Park Superintendent Jan Dzierzak said the fire was reported to 911 at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Responders arrived at the scene and began efforts to control the fire just before 6 p.m.

He said the fire was mostly under control by 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Responding were 106 personnel from 16 West Virginia fire departments and agencies and three Pennsylvania volunteer fire departments, he said.

“[The fire] is completely controlled and contained. There are a few hotspots that we’re working on and monitoring, but the fire is out,” Dzierzak said Wednesday.

According to Dzierzak, 30.5 acres of the forest were affected.

Dzierzak said the park was open as usual Wednesday, though the main gate is still closed for the season and will not open until Monday.

“The park is open [and] there is no danger to any park guests,” he said.

Rudy Williams, regional forester with the West Virginia Division of Forestry for Region 1, said the fire occurred off the park’s Clay Run trail and was spreading rapidly when responders arrived.

Williams said the investigation into the origin of the fire began Wednesday morning.

“So far we’ve been unable to determine the cause. We’re thinking it’s human-caused, but we haven’t ruled out the powerline either. We’re still trying to figure that one out,” he said.

Williams confirmed that 106 responders were at the park.

The West Virginia Division of Forestry accompanied responders from fire departments in Preston and Monongalia counties and responders from Marion County 911 on the scene.

Williams said the Cheat Lake Volunteer Fire Department was the closest and was “in charge” of the firefighting efforts.

Pennsylvania responders from the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department, Fairchance Volunteer Fire Department and Markleysburg Volunteer Fire Company helped fight the blaze.

Monongalia County EMS provided additional assistance.

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