Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salisbury forest fire keeps crews busy

Updated: Tuesday, 10 May 2011, 9:29 PM EDT

Published : Tuesday, 10 May 2011, 6:47 PM EDT
Salisbury, Conn (WTNH) - A forest fire is keeping crews busy in one of the most remote parts of Connecticut. It's burning along the Appalachian Trail, and due to the rugged conditions in the area, getting it under control is proving to be a very tough job.
From the ground the white streaks of smoke in the bear mountain area of the trail give little indication about the severity of the fire, but from a helicopter hovering above, firefighters get a better perspective. They say between 75 and 100 acres of forest is now on fire.
"It's up in the area where it's the highest elevation in the state. There's really no houses. The closest house is probably a mile and a half to two miles away as a crow flies," said Lakeville Hose Company Chief Jason Wilson.
The fire was spotted during overnight hours, but because of the rugged conditions, firefighters didn't risk going up the hill until first light Tuesday morning. Job one for the crews was widening already established trails enough to accommodate the heavy equipment needed to knock down the flames.
"They're just walking trails. We're trying to make them wide enough. We're trying to find old logging trails, and creating ways for the ATVs to enter the woods and successfully transport that equipment that we need to get to that site," Wilson said.
When firefighters get there their first priority will be to stop the spread of the fire.
"Basically the key is to establish a perimeter, keep it contained in that perimeter, and don't allow the fire to spread," said Wilson.
That's easier said than done. It took more than two weeks to knock down a fire in a similar spot on the trail in the late 1980's. Firefighters hope it won't take anywhere near that long to get this one under control.
Firefighters said high winds caused the fire to spread and jump the fire line Tuesday afternoon, but they were able to knock it back and get it under control.
On Tuesday night, fire officials told News 8 that the fire has been contained, and that their fire lines will hold overnight. Crews left the scene around 8:00pm, as did the State DEP. They will return Wedneday morning at 8:30am to either 

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