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Brush fire threat high across area

UPDATE: The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Sunday because of the potential of rapid wildfire growth. King George County also asks residents to avoid burning today.

What started as a homeowner’s controlled outdoor fire Saturday afternoon in the Partlow area of Spotsylvania County spread to two vehicles and two boats.

Now, local fire officials are advising Fredericksburg-area residents to be careful and take heed of a fire weather watch. In fact, Stafford fire officials have prohibited all open-air burning today.

The National Weather Service on Saturday issued the fire watch, which continues through this Sunday afternoon. Dry conditions, wind and a cold front moving in create conditions ripe for brush fires to spread.

A call came in to the Spotsylvania County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management about 2:15 p.m. Saturday, said acting battalion chief Matthew Embrey.

As the first crew was en route to 8217 Marye Road, responders noticed a column of smoke in the sky and asked for more help.

One vehicle and one boat, along with brush and grass were already on fire when they arrived at 2:18 p.m. Flames spread to another vehicle and boat, Embrey said. The property included many abandoned cars.

The fire started as a controlled burn that the homeowner believed was out, Embrey said, but it flared back out.

The fire marshal ruled it accidental. No charges were filed on Saturday.

Emergency crews contained the fire by 2:50 p.m.

All told, 23 members of three organizations responded—including the county fire and rescue department, the Spotsylvania Volunteer Fire Department and the Spotsylvania Volunteer Rescue Squad.

Two fire engines, one medic-level ambulance, two brush trucks, a fire marshal’s vehicle and three tankers were on the scene south of Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Embrey said there were a number of controlled burns in the county on Saturday, but no others spread.

Meanwhile in Stafford County, two calls came in about a controlled burn that people thought was a brush fire. The fire didn’t spread, said assistant chief Mark Doyle.

Stafford hasn’t limited any controlled burns, but fire officials are advising residents to be careful.

Outdoor burning isn’t recommended, Spotsylvania’s Embrey said.

“We encourage everyone to burn legally and the legal fires must be attended at all the times with a means to extinguish the fire,” he said.

Anyone with questions can contact the Spotsylvania fire marshal at 540/507-7900.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975