Fire crews busy battling brush fires - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fire crews busy battling brush fires

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Ascutney Ascutney
Ascutney Ascutney
Champlain, N.Y. Champlain, N.Y.
Champlain, N.Y. Champlain, N.Y.
Colchester Colchester

Fire crews from New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, worked around the clock Wednesday as dry conditions made it easy for brush fires to start and spread.

Scorched hills, burning trees and blackened ground just feet from her campground is not what Ellen Fraczek envisioned for opening day.

"It kind of freaks you out because you don't want that close to your business," Fraczek said.

State owned land in Ascutney went up in flames around 1 p.m. Wednesday and quickly jumped up the embankment.

"Fire creates its own wind, and it was raging up the hill. We had some trees burning 30 to 40 feet up in the air," said Ascutney Fire Chief Darrin Spaulding.

More than a dozen fire departments worked quickly to put out the flames, but crews had to work for hours to put out a fire that was smoldering 6 inches underground.

"They've got hand rakes and a bunch of forester liens along with foam all that white stuff which penetrates down into the ground better than actual water," Spaulding explained. He also said the fire may not have been an accident. He thinks it may have been started intentionally.

"We have an eyewitness that spotted someone in the area earlier in the day, and then they drove up, came back by, and the fire was racing up the side of the hill," Spaulding said.

"It's pretty disgusting. I certainly hope if somebody did it on purpose they catch the person. I don't want them to keep doing it," said Fraczek.

Officials say a recent dry spell has made the leaves and twigs very dry and susceptible to fire. Not just in Ascutney, but there were brush fires all over the region on Wednesday.

A farmer was doing some burning on his field in Leggett Road in Champlain, N.Y., when it spread to the woods. Crews from about five different departments responded.

Another tough one on Marble Island in Colchester. Crews battled that blaze on land and from the water. Some had to come by boat to reach the flames at the bottom of a 100-foot cliff. They have no idea how the fire started.

"This is an uninhabited area there are neighborhoods around but there's absolutely no one in the area there's really no way to access this area," said Malletts Bay Fire Chief David Scibek.

Conditions are so dry, in Essex an emergency burning ban has been declared on all burning even for those who were already issued permits.

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