Brush fire reaches 55 acres, continues to burn in Leverett

  • Firefighters from Leverett and several surrounding towns battled a 20-plus acre brush fire that started Thursday morning on Joshua Hill and lasted into Friday. Courtesy Photo/Colrain Firefighters’ Association

  • Firefighters from Leverett and several surrounding towns battled a 20-plus-acre brush fire that started Thursday morning on Joshua Hill and lasted into Friday. Colrain Firefighters’ Association

  • Firefighters from Leverett and several surrounding towns battled a 20-plus acre brush fire that started Thursday morning on Joshua Hill and lasted into Friday. Courtesy Photo/Colrain Firefighters’ Association

  • Firefighters from Leverett and several surrounding towns battled a 20-plus acre brush fire that started Thursday morning on Joshua Hill and lasted into Friday. Courtesy Photo/Colrain Firefighters’ Association

  • Firefighters from Leverett and several surrounding towns battled a 20-plus acre brush fire that started Thursday morning on Joshua Hill and lasted into Friday. Courtesy Photo/Colrain Firefighters’ Association

Published: 6/26/2020 1:33:06 PM

LEVERETT — Officials say a brush fire that started as less than an acre Thursday morning on Joshua Hill has grown to more than 55 acres.

Fire Chief John Ingram said more than 90 firefighters and 23 agencies were called on Saturday to contain the fire, which continues to burn.

“We’ve received a tremendous outpouring of support from fire departments all over Franklin County, Hampshire County, DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation), (Department of) Fish and Wildlife and Leverett residents, to name a few,” Ingram said at press conference held Saturday afternoon at the Leverett Public Safety Complex on Montague Road.

Ingram said he expects the fire will take at least another two days to put out.

David Celino, chief fire warden for DCR, said controlling the fire has been a “daunting effort” as a result of the “moderate drought” that much of Western Massachusetts is currently experiencing.

“With that comes dry forest fuel conditions — the driest forest fuel conditions I’ve seen in my 30 years in the fire service for the month of June,” Celino said, adding that these conditions aren’t uncommon in September or October. “We’re really ahead of the curve, and that’s what’s driving the behavior on these fires, not just here but across the state.”

He added that the rugged terrain of the area makes for a dangerous task for firefighters, who are shuttled in and hike the remaining distance.

Leverett Deputy Fire Chief Brian Cook said crews were initially called to the brush fire on Joshua Hill at around 11:30 a.m. Thursday. By 3 p.m. the Leverett Fire Department, along with numerous area towns, Massachusetts State Police and the Air Wing unit, were working to extinguish the large fire.

Cook said the firefighters and State Police used the Leverett Elementary School and Leverett Library parking lots for parking, and as a backup landing location for the Air Wing unit.

At roughly 10:30 p.m. Thursday evening, Cook said the fire was determined not to be encroaching on any homes. Firefighters ended their operations for the night and crews returned to the scene Friday morning.

According to Cook, roughly 100 firefighters from different departments assisted Thursday, and 50 to 60 were on scene Friday morning.

By Friday afternoon, Cook said relief crews arrived to replace the firefighters from the morning, and the fire was estimated to have reached 23 acres based on the State Police Air Wing unit’s latest flyover.

Ingram said on Saturday the cause of the fire remains under investigation, though he did note reports of lightning were received a few days earlier.




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