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Illinois hunting and fishing

Several fire departments worked together to contain a fire at Sand Ridge State Forest. Photo by Skyler Edwards/GateHouse News Service

Major blaze at Sand Ridge State Forest under control

March 20, 2012 at 09:24 PM

Peoria Journal-Star

FOREST CITY — A major fire that burned throughout the afternoon was under control at Sand Ridge State Forest by about 8:30 p.m. though flames were expected to continue through the night.

The cause of the blaze, which covered dozens and perhaps more than 100 acres, appeared to have started in an area near the park headquarters in rural Mason County. The first call to firefighters came in at 2:14 p.m.

“We had a fire with an undetermined start burn through some acres of Sand Ridge State Forest,” said Doug Herrman of the Forman Fire Department, who took command of the incident that drew more than a dozen departments from throughout the region.

“We got it under control and lit some back fires to let it burn itself out,” Herrman said.

Flames were expected to continue through the night, though firefighters were expected to continue patrolling the area overnight in case high winds again fueled the flames.

More than one firefighter needed treatment at the scene for heat-related problems from the flames and unseasonably warm temperatures, Herrman said. No serious injuries were reported.

It was not precisely clear how many acres had burned, and a total area impacted by the fire may not be know until morning.

Sand Ridge State Forest covers 7,200 acres and is the largest of Illinois’ state forests, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. It features a rare sand prairie and is home to native cactus found in few other areas of the state.

Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.

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