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Campfire cause of 4-acre brush fire on Easthampton conservation land

  • Easthampton firefighters pumped water from the Manhan River to extinguish "hot spots" after a brush fire burned four acres of woods off of Terrace View Friday morning. PHOTO BY REBECCA EVERETT

    Easthampton firefighters pumped water from the Manhan River to extinguish "hot spots" after a brush fire burned four acres of woods off of Terrace View Friday morning. PHOTO BY REBECCA EVERETT Purchase photo reprints »

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  • Easthampton firefighters pumped water from the Manhan River to extinguish "hot spots" after a brush fire burned four acres of woods off of Terrace View Friday morning. PHOTO BY REBECCA EVERETT

    Easthampton firefighters pumped water from the Manhan River to extinguish "hot spots" after a brush fire burned four acres of woods off of Terrace View Friday morning. PHOTO BY REBECCA EVERETT Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton firefighters pumped water from the Manhan River to extinguish "hot spots" after a brush fire burned four acres of woods off of Terrace View Friday morning. PHOTO BY REBECCA EVERETT
  • <br/><br/>Back Camera
  • Easthampton firefighters pumped water from the Manhan River to extinguish "hot spots" after a brush fire burned four acres of woods off of Terrace View Friday morning. PHOTO BY REBECCA EVERETT

— Fire Chief David A. Mottor blamed a campfire for an early-morning brush fire that burned four acres of woods in the Edward J. Dwyer Conservation Area off Terrace View.

It took firefighters hours to locate the fire, deep in the woods on the banks of the Manhan River, but once they did around 6:45 a.m., they had it out within 30 minutes, according to Capt. Dennis Peck.

At 9 a.m., firefighters were still pumping water from the river to spray “hot spots” on the blackened forest floor to make sure leaves and sticks were not smoldering.

Peck said the department first received calls from Pleasant Street residents smelling smoke at 4:30 a.m., but after searching the neighborhood they couldn’t find any trace of a fire or smoke.

After dawn, residents and a police officer saw a plume of smoke coming from the wooded area. Peck said firefighters searched for the source of the smoke, trying to access the woods from Industrial Drive and Lovefield Way, but couldn’t find the best way to get to it.

Firefighters found the fire in the Edward J. Dwyer Conservation Area, about a five-minute walk from where the trail begins on Terrace View near Pleasant Street. There was no way to get a fire truck close to it, Peck said.

“It was a pretty good wall of fire. We had one water extinguisher and used our shovels to throw dirt on the fire,” Peck said. “We had it pretty well out before we got the hose in here, but it kept flaring up.”

Police officers helping with the search kicked dirt on the fire, too. “I’m glad they were here to help,” he said. He acknowledged that if there hadn’t been a nearby river to pump water from, extinguishing the fire would have been much trickier. In the burned area, the ground cover and low bushes were destroyed, but most of the larger trees were just charred at their bases. A few dead trees were dry enough to burn up and Mottor said he would call state forestry workers to cut down one that seemed hazardous.

Mottor said the campfire that started the fire may have belonged to a homeless man that police say spends a lot of time there. He said brush fires are pretty rare in Easthampton. “We probably only have ones like this once or twice a year,” he said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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