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Firefighters return to battle White Mountain National Forest blaze

By JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent

October 18. 2017 9:20PM
At a staging area on Pinkham B Road, state, local and federal firefighters on Wednesday afternoon prepare to battle a fire that had consumed 10 acres within the White Mountain National Forest. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

GORHAM — State, local and federal firefighters this week have been working on opposite sides of the White Mountain National Forest. They returned on Tuesday to the Dilly Fire in North Woodstock and on Wednesday they started battling a new blaze just north of the Dolly Copp Campground.

The fire north of Dolly Copp Campground was reported around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and burned about 10 acres in the National Forest in an area off Pink B Road (aka Dolly Copp Road) about a half-mile west of Route 16, said Gorham Fire Capt. Shawn Costine.

It was too early to tell what the cause and origin of the fire is or whether it was suspicious, said Costine, adding that luckily for firefighters it was within 500 feet of a road that allowed engines to get close to it.

No one was injured by the fire and the nearest structure, the Horton Center, “is a ways away,” Costine said.

Unlike the Dilly Fire, which could burn on and off until the first drenching rains or snowfall because it penetrated the sometime feet-thick layer of debris known as duff, the fire off Pinkham B Road is “kind of staying on the surface, and not in the crown” of trees, said Costine.

A 17-year member of the Gorham Fire Department, Costine added, “We don’t come out this way very often.”

Such is the case with the Woodstock fire chief, John MacKay, who said the fire on Dilly Cliff was the first in his long career at his agency, and, hopefully his last.

On Tuesday, a hot spot flared up within the interior of the Dilly Fire, which necessitated the early closing of the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves as well as portions of the Kinsman Ridge hiking trail.

The flare up sent a “significant amount of smoke into the air and prompting several 911 calls,” according to the US Forest Service, and led to the re-integration of a unified fire command comprised of the USFS, the State of New Hampshire and the Woodstock Fire Department.

Last week, the unified command was dissolved and Woodstock firefighters assumed daily patrol and observation duties.

The fire, which has burned 70 acres owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and within the adjacent National Forest, picked up on Monday, said MacKay, forcing the return to active firefighting. On Tuesday, it got even more intense, coming within 300 feet of Route 112, but they did not have to close the road.

The location of the fire surprised MacKay, but “at least we didn’t have to climb a mountain to get to it.”

jkoziol@newstote.com


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