HAPPY — Forest fires spread through the Happy community on Monday, generating smoke thick enough to be strongly detected in downtown Hazard. One arrest was made in connection to the fire. Carew “Shorty” Blankenship was lodged in the Kentucky River Regional Jail for suspected arson. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials accuse Blankenship of intentionally starting the blaze.
All forest fires create great concern for emergency and rescue crews. The fire in Happy was even more troubling than usual because the flames burned near oil wells belonging to the Jetta Operating Company. Thankfully, firefighters successfully prevented the flames from igniting the wells.
Local fire departments had a busy day. Along with the blaze in Happy, another forest fire threatened homes near Vicco. A call went out on Tuesday afternoon for the Vicco-Sassafrass Fire Dept. to respond to another brush fire near Happy that threatened homes in the area.
The burn ban for Perry County remains in effect, meaning all outside burning is prohibited 24 hours a day until further notice. Shorty Blankenship will appear in Perry County District Court, facing two charges related to arson.
Authorities claim Blankenship said he “was just looking for something to do.”
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.