GEORGETOWN — The Georgetown Fire Department responded to a report of a brush fire in the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest last Thursday, and continues to face dangerous fire conditions throughout the community due to drought.
On Thursday, Aug. 18, at approximately 6 p.m., a brush fire was reported by the State Police Air Wing, which was flying over the area of the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest. The fire was located north of the Pingree Farm Access Road along Trail 30. The State Police unit landed at Penn Brook School and picked up Georgetown Fire personnel so they could get a better look at the fire from above.
Companies spent several hours extinguishing the fire and wetting down hot spots Thursday evening.
On Friday, Aug. 19, at approximately 11:25 a.m., firefighters were called back to the same area of the state forest because the fire flared back up in the dry conditions. This fire is in the same vicinity of a previous fire which the department had been battling several weeks ago. This fire will likely continue to smolder deep in the ground until the area receives some substantial rain.
Drought conditions throughout the region have left brush and wooded areas extremely dry and prone to fire. Drought conditions have also created conditions in which fires can burn more deeply into the ground, making overhauling burned areas and preventing flare ups that are far more labor intensive.
Georgetown crews will continue to return to the area as new areas flare up. Light smoke and the smell of burning brush may continue to be noticeable in the coming days. If you notice an active fire in the area, please call 911.
Acting Chief Chuck Savage and the Georgetown Fire Department wish to thank their mutual aid partners, which have provided critical support: The State Police Air Wing; the Newbury Fire Department and West Newbury Fire Department, which provided assistance on Thursday; and the Rowley Fire Department, which provided assistance on Friday.
In light of the dangers posed by drought conditions, the Georgetown Fire Department would like to share these tips for preventing brush and wildland fires from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services:
Before setting up a campfire, be sure it is permitted by checking with the local fire department.
Clear away dry leaves and sticks and overhanging low branches and shrubs.
Avoid burning on windy, dry days.
• Keep campfires small so they are easier to control and attend to them at all times.
• Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids.
• Always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt or sand nearby to put out the fire.
• Make sure your campfire is out cold before leaving.
• If using an ATV, dirt bike, or other off-road vehicle, be sure the spark arrestor is properly installed, as required by Massachusetts law
• Don’t park an ATV, dirt bike, or other off-road vehicle on or near dry vegetation, and turn the engine off when stopped for an extended period of time.
• Carefully dispose of all smoking materials. Never dispose of cigarette butts in planting soil, mulch, or shrubbery, or along a roadway. Dispose of them in a suitable ashtray or bucket with sand.