Officials Say Williamstown Forest Fire is 75% Contained
Williamstown Fire Chief Craig A. Pedercini, State Fire Warden David Celino, and North Adams Mayor Thomas W. Bernard provided an update on the “East Mountain” forest fire in the Clarksburg State Forest yesterday afternoon.
According to officials, the fire was brought to 75% containment as of yesterday afternoon. Firefighters worked hard yesterday aided by MA National Guard and MA State Police helicopter water drops. The fire is burning in steep, wooded terrain that is difficult to access, so the decision was made to pull people out for the day yesterday before nightfall set it. It would be too dangerous for firefighters to continue working in the dark and since there are no structures or people currently in danger the call was made to rest for the night.
Fire officials say the first responders need some rest and rehabilitation from this physically taxing work. Firefighting operations will continue this morning. The expectation is that they will be able to transition to a patrol and “mop-up” operation putting out hot spots over the next several days.
The fire is burning leaf litter and forest debris. The soil itself is fairly moist so it is not burning very deeply, and brooks and streams are serving as natural barriers.
People can expect to see smoke overnight and after it is 100% contained, but the atmospheric conditions are still favorable for preventing any major health impacts or shifts to populated areas.
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This is the largest wildland fire in Massachusetts since the April 9, 1999, Tekoa Mountain fire in Russell. It burned 1100 acres and claimed the life of Russell Deputy Fire Chief John Murphy.
The “East Mountain” fire started burning Friday night in Williamstown in a remote wooded area that is difficult to access. No structures are threatened by the fire. One firefighter was taken to the hospital over the weekend. He is in good condition but remains hospitalized.
Over 120 firefighters from 19 surrounding towns are worked the fire lines today in a difficult and labor-intensive effort to contain the fire. These include Adams Forest Wardens, Bennington (VT) Fire Department, Bennington (VT) Rural Fire Department, Charlemont Fire Department, Clarksburg Fire Department, Florida Fire Department, Franklin County Hand Crew, Hinsdale Fire Department, North Adams Fire Department, Pownal (VT) Fire Department, Pownal Valley (VT) Fire Department, Rowe Fire Department, Richmond Fire Department, Savoy Fire Department, Shaftsbury (VT) Fire Department, Stamford Fire Department, Williamstown Fire Department, Williamstown Forestry,
In addition to all the mutual aid firefighters, the state Bureau of Fire Control, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the Mass. State Police the Mass. National Guard is all assisting, and the National Park Service.
The Appalachian Trail is impacted by the fire and hikers should stay clear of this area for their own health and safety.
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