ST. FRANCIS, Maine — Crews from three departments remained on the scene of a brush fire Tuesday afternoon near the St. Francis-Allagash town line.
Firefighters from St. Francis, Allagash and Fort Kent were joined by a water-dropping helicopter from the Maine Forest Service in battling the fire just off Route 161 near Chamberlain’s Store in St. Francis, according to Darlene Dumond, an Allagash resident who witnessed the fire.
Dumond estimated the area covered by the fire to be several acres and said it appeared to be under control by 3:30 p.m. after crews had been on the scene for about an hour.
Kent Nelson, Fire Prevention Specialist for the Maine Forest Service, said Tuesday evening that officials believe the fire may have been started by a carelessly discarded cigarette. He estimated that 15 acres of land had been burned by the time it was contained.
“As you know, everything is very dry and temperatures up in Aroostook County have been higher than in other parts of the state,” he said. “And it has been windy, so that has helped spread the fire faster.”
He said that the forest service used its helicopter to drop water onto the blaze to get it contained faster, and crews were still on the scene checking for hot spots as of 4:30 p.m.
This week’s record and near-record temperatures and lack of rain mean the fire danger around Maine is high, with the Maine Forest Service placing the entire state under a “very high” rating, according to its website Tuesday.
Many towns around the state have stopped issuing outdoor burn permits until the region receives measurable rainfall.
The National Weather Service in Caribou is forecasting cooler temperatures with the chance of rain moving into the area later this week.
BDN reporter Jen Lynds contributed to this report