Mass. Facing Increased Brush Fire Risk

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The spring fire season arrived early this year as a combination of factors led to a string of brush fires across the state.

In recent days, dry, windy conditions have caused the National Weather Service to declare a red flag danger warning for all of eastern and central Massachusetts.

"It's the worst possible conditions with fire danger at its highest, and it's just perfect for burning, bad for firefighting," said Saugus Fire Chief Jerry Blanchard.

Blanchard said a fire over the weekend in the Lynn Woods Reservation posed major problems for responding firefighters from Saugus and Lynn.

"It's a very difficult area to access and even more difficult to get water onto the fire," Blanchard explained. "So we and Lynn used our boats to travel across Birch Pond Reservoir to where [the fire] was burning and then we had to deploy floating pumps, pumps that sit in the reservoir, you hook your hoses up to them to pump the water out."

They finally got it under control, but the fire threat remains.

"There's just felled trees and brush in the middle of burned out area that will smolder for some time," Blanchard said.

State Fire Marshall Stephen Coan warned that dead and dry vegetation are a hazard across Massachusetts.

"It clearly is an uptick. It's a direct result of a number of conditions that existed during the winter months," Coan said. "Primarily the fact that we had no snow pack that normally would provide moisture to the wild lands and woodlands of the commonwealth for a period of time, and combined with the warm temperatures of the spring."

So, when fires occur in these areas, they are very difficult to control. Coan says most are the result of human intervention and he urges people to use common sense and caution.

The hope is for a drenching rain soon.

This program aired on April 10, 2012.

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Delores Handy Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.



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