A Vermont couple is back home Tuesday night, after crews put out a wildfire that came within just a few dozen feet of their house.
Flames charred an estimated 17 to 20 acres near the state forest in the small town of Groton. Town Volunteer Fire Chief Wayne Knott says dry, windy conditions - combined with plenty of fuel - gave the blaze strength.
"The weather we've had the last few weeks has had a chance to really dry out," he said, "so it's a mixture of what we call fuels: got small twigs and so forth, foliage, on up to sizable logs."
The four-alarm fire drew 26 crews from across Vermont and New Hampshire. They received the call just after noon, and arrived on-scene as the blaze drew toward Brittney Larrabee's home of five years.
She left work early - after receiving a call from her fiancee - to help shuttle responders to the fire on her ATV. "It definitely helped to stay busy," she said, "I want to help them as much as they've helped us, saving our home basically, and I can't say how grateful I am for all their help."
Firefighters haven't determined a cause yet, but say they believe a lightning strike ignited a small patch in the area nearly a week ago. They believe it did little more than smolder until the wind fueled its growth Tuesday.
By mid-afternoon, firefighters had extinguished the flames. Crews doused the scene to prevent strong, shifting winds from re-igniting the burnt fuels.
Knott says logging debris complicated some of their response, but said the access road also made getting to the fire relatively easy.
Crews packed up their hoses at about 7:30 p.m., but will be called right back out, if any hint of the fire returns.
State data for wildfires this year could not be found, and calls placed to spokespeople went unreturned before airtime.
To put Tuesday's 20-acre fire in a bit of perspective, in 2010, a State Parks and Forestry report indicates that wildfires burned 80 acres that year.
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