Large Mulch Fire Makes a Long Night
By Technician Evan Neff
April 6, 2018

At 4:36 pm Friday afternoon units from Nokesville (E525, E505, B525), Stonewall Jackson (E511), Lake Jackson (E507, B507), Gainesville (E504, B504), Haymarket (E524), Evergreen (E515), Buckhall (B516), and Dumfries-Triangle (CP503) along with mutual aid from Fauquier County (E1110, B1110) were dispatched to box 2552 for a brush fire off of Piney Branch Lane near Balls Ford Road. That fire quickly spread to the Prince William County Yard Waste Composting Facility nearby. At the composting facility the fire became seeded deep in the mulch and spread to the rest of the facility. Several of the facility’s earth moving vehicles were destroyed by the fire.

Around 6 pm, after battling this large for several hours, there did not seem to be an end in sight. Relief crews from multiple volunteer departments started to arrive so that the day time career staff could go home and get some rest.

By 9:30 pm there was still a large amount of fire burning across multiple mulch piles. With a majority of the west end fire department units on scene that area became short on engines. Nokesville volunteers, with some help from Stonewall Jackson volunteers, staffed a second engine and filled in at fire station 4 in Gainesville. Yorkshire volunteers also staffed additional engine to fill in at Stonewall Jackson.

Fire department units were on scene throughout the night and into the next day. Prince William Police had Balls Ford Rd closed the entire time between Wellingford Drive and Piney Branch Lane. Due to the constant running some of the engines started to run low on fuel and had to be rotated through different positions on the fire ground so that units could refuel and come back.

With the help from multiple companies and constant hard work all night long, units started going back to their stations around 6 am to start the long clean-up process and to get some, well deserved, rest so they could continue to serve their communities. Stonewall Jackson’s engine was released by the incident commander at 7:30 am Saturday morning after being on scene for approximately 14 hours. Eventually the scene was turned over to the facility staff and the last fire department unit left after being on scene for over 23 hours. The smell of the smoke could still be detected motorists in the area as of Sunday afternoon. Shortly after 9 am Monday the press reported that the facility had finally reopened, but that none of the mulch or compost was available for sale.

Units: E525, E505, B525, E511, E507, B507, E504, B504, E524, E515, B516, CP503
Mutual Aid: Fauquier County E1110, B1110