A series of brush fires along the I-270 spur has created a traffic mess. Firefighters spent much of Tuesday afternoon battling as many as eight fires that threatened homes and stretched for several hundred yards.
The fires have been burning since just after 1 p.m. They broke out along the northbound side of the I-270 spur and quickly spread into a neighborhood.
Firefighters found themselves using foam as well as water from tanker trucks to extinguish the flames.
Some firefighters set up between Valerian Lane and the highway in an effort to keep the flames from reaching the homes.
"It looked like it was going to jump the fence over towards where our homes were," said homeowner Sumit Bhandari. "Obviously I came out with some concern just to make sure that it wasn't coming too quickly and whether we had to warn some of the other neighbors about it."
The stubborn fires kept firefighters busy pulling the hose in from the highway and attacking the brush along a fence line.
From the air, U.S. Park Police looked for spots the firefighters may have missed.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
"These types fires can carry on their own," said Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Richard Bowers. "Just a little spark can carry a ways. It could be any multiple things. It's pure speculation right now. We'll get to the bottom of it. We do have our own fire investigators on the scene."
With all of the equipment on the highway, police and state highway workers restricted access to just one lane - the shoulder - for several hours.
"The main thing is making sure nobody gets hurt and then try to preserve property to the best of our ability," said Chief Bowers. "And we've been able to do all of that very quickly."
One of the challenges has been getting enough water to the scene. Tanker trucks from as far away as Sandy Spring were called in to help.