Crews continue to battle a mountainside fire in Stowe.
The blaze on Mt. Mansfield broke out early Labor Day morning. Though small, tough terrain is preventing firefighters from extinguishing it.
More than a dozen crews from all over the state left their posts to fight the fire, leaving behind only skeleton staff. Many won't return home until Tuesday.
As the sun rose Monday, firefighters began digging in atop Mt. Mansfield. "We had a 2-mile walk in with all of our gear, at least 40 lbs. of water on our back, plus hand-tools and any other equipment we may have needed," said Stowe Fire Department Capt. Kyle Walker.
Early Labor Day morning, winds stirred embers from a campfire near a scenic lookout just above the Long Trail's Taylor Lodge. They ignited dry moss and about two-acres of mountainside.
Though the area may be the perfect setting for a day-hike, crews say the terrain poses mountains of challenges. "It requires a lot of resources and it expends a lot of man-power, people-power, just to get equipment and supplies here," said Walker.
Fire-fighters carried water up in five-gallon, back-pack sized increments. Later in the evening, generators pumped water nearly a mile uphill, providing a more steady supply.
But, the cliff offers little access and crews had difficulty even spotting the blaze at times. "This is a really dry moss and it's very thick, very dense," explained Walker, "and the fire's actually burning underneath it long before we have any idea it's burning underneath."
Crews contained the fire early in the day, but even with about a dozen departments, many had to make arrangements to spend the night. They're keeping watch to make sure the fire doesn't spread thanks to Vermont's unusually dry conditions.
Back country crews did what they could to help, packing in food and other staples. "Normally when we're going out it's for lost or injured hikers so this is a different type of mission for us today," said Brian Linder of Waterbury Back Country Rescue.
Fire crews say they need all the help they can get. "Without help from all over the state we wouldn't be able to do this," said Walker.
Monday night, those on the scene hope Mother Nature lends a hand with cool temperatures and a little rain.
An area fire chief did reach out to the National Guard for possible aerial help. However, Guard spokespeople say they did not receive a formal request from Vermont Emergency Management, as is required.
Guard staff say they would not need a formal request to respond if the fire endangered lives. They also said the steep cliff in the area would have limited the feasibility of a successful water drop, though no formal analysis of the situation was done.
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