Fire Danger High This Spring, Mountain Bikers to the Rescue
April 22nd, 2006
Like many New Englanders, I was pretty happy with the lack of snow this winter. Snow blowing and shoveling are not my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. But we are now paying the price for such a mild and dry winter. Fire danger is extremely high. Even now, in April, there have already been several brush fires in the Fells. There are fire warnings (Fire Danger Statement, Red Flag Warning) issued by the National Weather Service for Middlesex County almost every day.
Fells users must be extra careful this year. A single discarded cigarette can spark huge brushfires in the Fells when conditions are right. Camp fires and other open fires are prohibited in the Fells. Under conditions like these, it is imperative that people abide by this rule. If you come across a brushfire in the Fells, just call 911. These days, almost everyone has a cell phone, and as it turns out, you get great signal throughout the Fells. A couple of Mountain Bikers have come across some brushfires already this year. Their quick actions prevented these brushfires from turning into major fires.
Thats what happened to Joe Levine last weekend. He was biking in the Fells, on the Green Trail down by the Winchester Water Treatment Plant off South Border Road. Joe noticed that a tree stump near the trail was smoking. He called 911 and the Winchester Fire Department came and extinguished it before it was able to grow. He said the entire incident was over in less than 20 minutes.
I had heard about Joe's incident. Imagine my surprise when I was mountain biking on Wednesday and the same thing happened to me. I was biking in the area of Pine Hill (near Roosevelt Circle) and out of nowhere, I came across thick grey smoke. I knew right away there must be a brushfire, but it was a windy day so I wasn't sure just how close it was. As I continued on, it became clear that it was very close. I hopped off my bike and ran up the hill towards the smoke. The flames were about 4 or 5 feet high, covering an area of roughly 30 feet by 30 feet. I quickly grabbed my cell phone and called 911. I'm sure I sounded panicked, but I was simply out of breath from running up the hill :-) I described it as best I could over the phone, and then I headed down to the main gate (at Long Pond parking area on South Border Rd) and waited for the fire trucks to arrive. I feared they wouldn't know where to look, because the fire was up and over a ridge. When they got there I showed them where the fire was on the map ( Fells Trail Maps ), and then I trailed them up the hill so I could guide them further. Once they found it, they got out all their equipment and got to work. It was a very impressive sight, to see the fire equipment moving through the narrow roads in the Fells. But the Medford F.D. did a great job, my thanks go out to them.
I tried to reach the DCR for a statement, but I have not heard back from them.
If you come across a fire in the Fells, please call 911 immediately.
If you come across fallen trees on dirt roads and want to report them to the DCR, you can call 617-727-1199. Uncleared logs are a significant obstacle for fire trucks to pass.
If you see any other suspicious activity, call the DCR at 617-727-1199.