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Decatur forest fire contained but still burning

DECATUR - "Good to almost excellent."

That was how Glenn Bell, fire information officer working with the Wayne National Forest, described progress in the ongoing battle against a massive forest fire near County Road 41 off State Route 93 in Decatur Township.

"(Wednesday) crews did finish establishing the control line around the entire fire and made progress with the mop-up work," Bell said.

Crews will continue to monitor the situation, he said. Also Wednesday, some personnel were diverted to another small blaze near County Road 14. The fire of unknown origin burned 2 to 3 acres and was put out in about two hours, Bell said.

The fire has been difficult to battle because of large amounts of debris from the 2003 ice storm. Estimates now project the fire will burn 250 acres, down from an earlier estimate of 300 acres, Bell said.

Still not clear why it started, officials said that the blaze began Sunday. It has kept more than 75 firefighters and other forest crews busy all week.

Ground crews from Virginia, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee have assisted local and state agencies. Helicopter support has been provided by crews from Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Bell and WNF officials urge residents of the area to be careful with fire in and around the forests. Many wildfires start as a result of burning trash, brush or debris.

These fires, which usually begin on private property, escape, and become wildfires. Officials also want residents in the area of the Decatur fire to watch for traffic from the fire crews working in the area.