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Body farm corpses spared from forest fire

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 01:11

A fire near the Sam Houston State University body decomposition facility, also known as the body farm, was contained on Wednesday, officials said.

The fire was located on the east side of Harmon Creek on Fish Hatchery Road and spread to more than five acres at one time, according to Anthony Tryon, Walker County communication supervisor. The location was in the Sam Houston National Forest and made it’s way near the edge of the body farm.

Butch Davis, Walker County emergency management coordinator, said the fire has probably been burning since Sunday when a thunderstorm came through Huntsville.

He said the fire was most likely caused by lightning and was slow burning.

“There was no major damage,” Davis said. “When you have a slow burning fire like this one it helps to get the underbrush out of [the forest], which helps growth.”

Officials first received the call at 4:04 p.m. The U.S. Forest Service is also working with Walker County Emergency Management to keep the fire contained, Davis said.

University Police Department officers and the Huntsville Fire Department were the first to arrive on scene.

The body farm, officials said, was not in danger because it would have had to cross Harmon Creek. By that time, officials had already put a containment line around the flames.

Davis said little wind and high humidity helped keep the fire under control and was “a cake walk” compared to the forest fires last summer.

The body farm is a research facility used by the College of Criminal Justice to understand how different circumstances effect human decomposition. A news report on the facility shows.

The site is not open to the public for viewing.

Davis said there were still workers on the scene when he left, but that officials from the U.S. Forest Service, which watches over the safety public forests, will return Thursday morning to inspect progress on putting out the fir

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