DANFORTH, Maine — Personnel from the Maine Forest Service, the Danforth Volunteer Fire Department and Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge were called to a remote area near East Grand Lake on Monday afternoon to battle a forest fire spotted by a Civil Air Patrol pilot.
The fire was shaping up to be a stubborn one because it was located in a remote area with steep, ledgy terrain and because ground conditions are dry, said Peter Pelletier, a district ranger with the Maine Forest Service.
As of about 6 p.m., the fire had consumed about 5 acres of woodland, Pelletier said.
Pelletier said that nearly 20 people were in the area working to stop the spread of the fire, located off Greenland Cove Road near the lower end of East Grand Lake.
He said fire crews would be pulled away from the fire scene by dusk for safety reasons but that they would resume the effort at daylight today and that two six-man work crews from the Charleston Correctional Facility have been put on standby and will be brought in if needed.
Pelletier said Monday’s effort involved the use of hose lines, manpower and a forest service helicopter, which dropped water onto the affected area.
Pelletier said the fire was reported shortly before 3 p.m. by a Civil Air Patrol contractor who spotted it while flying over the area.
Though the fire’s cause had not been determined as of Monday evening, Pelletier said the fire officials suspect that a mechanical timber harvesting operation being conducted in the area might have sparked it.
“We’re still investigating,” he said, adding that authorities believe that a skidder that rolled over on a steep hill nearby might have thrown off sparks.
Monday’s forest fire was one of several that the Maine Forest Service has dealt with since Saturday, Pelletier said.
“It’s very dry,” he said. “Right now our fire potential is the highest it’s been” since early spring, when an unusually early snowmelt led to prime conditions for forest, brush and grass fires.
Over the weekend, lightning was blamed for a fire in Greenville that burned about three-quarters of an acre of woodland, a fire that officials think might have been set to cover up a burglary at a camp burned in Township 24, and a fire that authorities believe might have been caused by an abandoned, illegal campfire burned a quarter-acre island in Clifford Lake, he said.
Pelletier urged people who are camping or working with machinery in the woods to use extreme caution to prevent further forest fires.