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Even dousing by tropical storm fails to fully contain Dilly Cliff fire

By JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent

October 09. 2017 10:13PM
For the first time since Oct. 3, the parking lot at the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves was not filled with firefighters and equipment. Since last Tuesday, firefighters have battled a fire on the steep slope of the cliff that has burned 70 acres. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

WOODSTOCK — Despite being doused by Tropical Storm Nate, the Dilly Fire remains uncontained. Dee Hines, the public information officer for the Dilly Fire Team, said that “firefighters never turn down rain,” but it probably won’t be sufficient to extinguish the fire, which is burning deep in the “duff,” branches, leaves and organic debris that has settled into crevices.

Burning on the steep Dilly Cliff, across from the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, the fire has consumed a combined 70 acres of land owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and in the adjacent White Mountain National Forest.

On Sunday afternoon, the management of the fire, previously coordinated by the U.S. Forest Service and the New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands, was transferred back to the town of Woodstock.

The cost of fighting the fire, which will eventually include three helicopters, two of them NH National Guard Black Hawks, will likely be borne by those parties, Hines said.

The fire led to the early closure of the Lost River Gorge attraction, and of both the Dilly Cliff Trail and portions of the Appalachian Trail.

Should the blaze come back to life, “There are contingencies in place,” said Hines, including a fire hose that has been put in place on the eastern side of the cliff.

A group of former students from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago gathered at the entrance to Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves on Monday with the goal of ascending the nearby Dilly Cliff Trail but they were turned back because the trail is closed due to a fire. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

On Monday afternoon, as one band of showers moved out and another came in, Doug Moorhead, a part-time Grafton County deputy sheriff, was the lone emergency responder at Lost River Gorge.

Moorhead is a former chief and 27-year member of the Woodstock Police Department,

“The good news is that you found Lost River Gorge,” Moorhead cheerfully told drivers who slowed down and tried to pull into the parking lot, before adding that “the bad news is that it’s closed.”

“We were totally unaware,” said hiker Daniel Lakemacher, who with Allison Boyaris, hails from Bend, Ore.

Boyaris was disappointed but, given the many hiking opportunities in the White Mountains, said she was not dismayed because: “We’re here all week.”

jkoziol@unionleader.com


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