Sparks created while mowing touch off second grass fire in two weeks at Aroostook County farm

Posted July 14, 2014, at 5:43 p.m.

MAPLETON, Maine — For the second time in as many weeks, sparks created by a tractor-driven brush mower striking a rock is being blamed for a grass fire Monday afternoon in Mapleton.

Firefighters with departments from Mapleton, Washburn and Presque Isle along with the Maine Forest Service helicopter out of Old Town responded to a 12-acre fire at the Lucerne Farm for about two hours before containing it, according to Justin Carney, a Maine forest ranger out of Masardis.

“This is not the type of fire we typically see this time of year,” Carney said Monday afternoon.

According to Carney, a foreman at the farm was mowing a hayfield at about 1:30 p.m., when the mower’s blades hit a rock and created a spark, the exact scenario that touched off a one-acre wildfire on the farm on July 6.

“Because of what happened a week or so ago, he had a five-gallon bucket of water with him,” Carney said, adding that with recent rains, there was no reason to think the mowing would cause a second fire.

However, underneath the green grass there is a layer of dead and dry grass, which is what caught fire on Monday, Carney said.

The fire spread quickly driven by wind, Carney said, but it slowed considerably once it hit a treeline and crews were able to contain it on the ground.

The forest service helicopter was not required for any water drops, he said, but it was used for aerial surveillance to make sure the fire was completely extinguished.

“The [farm] foreman did nothing wrong and tried to take preventative action,” Carney said. “But he did say he’s not going to cut anymore until it rains.”

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