OLD TOWN, Maine — At least eight grass and brush fires Monday kept crews from the Maine Forest Service and local fire departments on their toes, a regional forest ranger said.
“It was a busy fire day,” Regional Forest Ranger Jeff Currier of the Maine Forest Service said Monday evening.
A grass fire in a remote location off Cross Road in Greenfield consumed about 5 acres before rangers who went to the scene with a forest service fire engine extinguished it, Currier said.
That fire appears to have started as a result of an unauthorized campfire, Currier said. He said it appears that the fire was set by someone who was fishing in a nearby stream without the landowner’s permission.
The forest service assisted at a fire in Bradley that began after a malfunction with a downed power line caused sparking that ignited a utility pole and burned down to dry grass, catching it on fire late Monday afternoon near Raymond Road, which runs off Route 178, he said.
Fire crews from Bradley, Milford and the forest service had to wait 10 to 15 minutes while Bangor Hydro Electric Co. de-energized the affected lines so the area would be safe for firefighters, Currier said.
Fire crews were able to work around the fire’s perimeter while waiting for the electricity to get shut down, he said. A forest service helicopter was brought in to douse the fire with water. The crews contained the fire to about 2 acres, stopping it before it could spread to six nearby homes, Currier said.
Currier said there also were grass and brush fires in several other locations, including Corinth, Monmouth, Fairfield, Clinton and Old Orchard Beach. Details were not immediately available but Currier said that a few of the southern Maine fires resulted in summonses for violations of the state’s open burn laws.
Currier said that the public can help prevent wildfires and grass fires by making sure they obtain the needed burn permits from their local fire wardens.
“They have a handle on what kind of a burn day it is and what requirements should be in place to ensure a safe burn,” he said. “And if you get a permit, read it,” Currier added, noting that permits often have requirements such as having a minimum number of adults on hand, times of day that are safer to burn, and what kinds of equipment the permit holder must have on hand during the burn.
“It’s something we take seriously,” Currier said. “When we see smoke, we stop.”
Currier said that this spring is shaping up to be a typical one in terms of the risk of wildfires, many of which start in dead grass and dry leaves.
“The risk certainly is there and they can burn very rapidly,” he said.
While few wildfires consume homes, they often claim barns, sheds and other outbuildings, he said.