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October 28. 2013 8:43PM

Winds, dry weather are perfect ingredients for NH brush fires

NASHUA — Fire officials are warning citizens to be extra vigilant as the dry weather and heavy winds are creating the perfect storm for brush fires, which have plagued southern New Hampshire in recent days.

“No open burning is allowed at least for a few days. This is definitely common sense stuff but still just as important,” said Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Kerrigan.

This past weekend, city fire crews responded to Mine Falls Park and Lincoln Park for separate brush fires. The blaze at Mine Falls Park on Sunday spanned about three to four acres, according to Kerrigan, who said the Lincoln Park fire damaged less than one acre of property.

Nashua Fire Rescue returned to both of those locations on Monday morning where they found additional hot spots that needed attention.

“Some of these fires are already in the ground. We have to use foam to penetrate the fire, as it is not just on the surface,” Kerrigan said.

Both areas of the city are heavily traveled by bicyclists and pedestrians. While the official cause of both fires has not been determined, Kerrigan said they likely started from improperly disposed cigarettes.

“There is no other reason for a fire to start out there,” he said, reminding citizens to be extra cautious when disposing of cigarette butts — especially in wooded areas that are currently very dry.

In addition to Nashua, Hudson had its own brush fire on Sunday night. Shortly before 10 p.m. a fire was reported in the area of Shingle Mill Road and Oliver Drive.

There have been very few red flag condition days in southern New Hampshire in recent months, according to Litchfield Fire Chief Frank Fraitzl, who said there were only two red flag days this past summer compared to the summer of 2012 when there were close to eight.

“The air is drying out, the leaves are dry and this creates tender conditions with little rain,” said Fraitzl. “We are always urging caution.”
While most fire pits have seasonal permits, it is the unplanned camp fires in the woods that are causing worry for fire officials in southern New Hampshire, he said.
The fire danger for most of the state was listed as high on Monday, mostly because of the dry conditions and gusty winds. However, Fraitzl said rain is in the forecast for later this week.

Kerrigan said rain would be helpful, but a good soaking of the wet stuff is really necessary to help make the fire conditions safer.
khoughton@newstote.com


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