DANFORTH, Maine — A wildfire that ripped through 10 acres of forestland in Washington County on Monday and into Tuesday has been contained, but officials still are not sure of the exact cause of the fire.
Personnel from the Maine Forest Service, the Danforth Volunteer Fire Department and Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge remained on the scene of the fire on a remote stretch of land near East Grand Lake on Tuesday afternoon, snuffing out hot spots at ground level.
“The fire has been contained,” Kent Nelson, fire prevention specialist for the Maine Forest Service, said Tuesday afternoon. “It grew to 10 acres before we got it extinguished. We have crews in there doing the mop-up right now.”
Mop-up includes extinguishing or removing burning and hazardous material and searching for underground burning roots.
The fire was reported shortly before 3 p.m. Monday by a Civil Air Patrol contractor who spotted it while flying over the area. The fire scene was located in a remote area with steep, ledgy terrain off Greenland Cove Road near the lower end of East Grand Lake.
By 6 p.m. Monday, the fire had consumed about 5 acres of woodland.
Nelson said firefighters used hose lines to douse the area with water and a forest service helicopter dropped water onto the affected area.
Ground conditions were dry at the time of the fire and remained that way Tuesday afternoon, despite intermittent showers that moved through the area during the day.
“The brief rains we’ve had have been refreshing, but it hasn’t gone a long way to improve the dry conditions we are experiencing,” he said. “We need more rain to eliminate the high fire danger we are experiencing right now.”
While fire crews have been on the scene since the fire sparked, Nelson said he believed small work crews from the Charleston Correctional Facility would be brought to the scene to help with additional efforts Wednesday.
The cause remains undetermined, but Nelson said fire officials continue to suspect that a mechanical timber harvesting operation being conducted in the area might have sparked it.
A skidder rolled over on a steep hill near the fire scene and might have thrown off sparks, according to Nelson.
The fire is one of several that the Maine Forest Service has encountered during the past few days.
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.
There are seven weather zones in the state used by the Maine Forest Service to gauge forest fire danger. In Aroostook and Washington counties, parts of Penobscot and along Maine’s coast, the risk for fire is moderate.
On land that stretches from Bangor to Fryeburg and in Maine’s western mountains, the fire danger is high.