TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) - A massive grass fire in the Town of Tonawanda scorched about 3 acres of land near the Dunlop Plant near Sheridan Drive and the I-190/I-290 connection Tuesday afternoon.
The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. when a lawn tractor overheated, causing a spark that quickly spread thanks to the dry conditions.
"There was a private contractor cutting the grass for Dunlop and the mower started on fire. Due to the weather this year the fire spread rapidly," explained Brighton Fire Company Assistant Chief Chris Tracey.
Several fire companies were called in to help battle the blaze that sent flames shooting 20-30 feet in the air at times.
Several smaller fires ignited when smoldering embers landed in the dry grass downwind, so crews called in Erie county Air One helicopter to provide a birds-eye view of the scene.
"Definitely a lot of man-power for this one. A lot of walking, hiking in, stretching a lot of hand lines. We did have several aerials up here when we could knocking the fire down," said Tracey.
"Well the conditions are ripe for any kind of a brush fire, grass fire, rubbish fire. We have very dry conditions. We haven't had a lot of rain or precipitation of any nature in an awful long time," explained Tiger Schmittendorf, Deputy Fire Coordinator for Erie County Emergency Services.
It took firefighters about 3 hours to get the blaze under control, and were on-scene until about 9:00 p.m. putting out smaller fires.
In all the fire scorched about 3 acres of land and left countless trees completely charred.
Several firefighters were treated on-scene for dehydration and one was taken to Kenmore-Mercy Hospital, but is expected to be okay.
Fire officials are also reminding area residents that the state-wide residential burn ban is still in effect through October due to the drought conditions.