Fire at Wilgus State Park scorches 3 acres
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | May 02,2013
Susan Smallheer / Staff Photo
Firefighters prepare to tackle a forest fire at Wilgus State Park. It was one of several such fires Wednesday in Vermont.
ASCUTNEY — Firefighters from a half-dozen communities worked to put out a fire Wednesday in Wilgus State Park.
About 3 acres of forestland were scorched by the fire, which was discovered at 1 p.m., and largely extinguished by 3:30 p.m.
Firefighters brought tankers of water to the scene, set up cascade pools and loaded fire packs. Firefighters also managed to use hoses to put out the fire close to the road.
Firefighters trucked in water from the Ascutney department’s fire pond off Tenney Hill Road.
Ascutney Fire Chief Darrin Spaulding said a witness saw someone in the pull-off on the west side of Route 5, just south of the entrance to the state park. That person was smoking, Spaulding said, who added that he believed the fire was deliberately set.
“It’s desolate and no one is around,” he said. “Every year it catches on fire.”
Temperatures hovered in the high 70s, even touching 80 degrees, as firefighters lugged 50-pound packs of water up extremely steep terrain. Spaulding said about 30 firefighters were in the woods putting the fire out.
The pull-off is a regular spot for fires, the chief said, and extremely dry conditions affecting southern Vermont drew the fire underground.
In the late afternoon there were several hot spots in the burned-over area, he said, and once those were out, firefighters would cut down several trees that were smoldering. He said because of repeated fires in the area, many of the trees would die and destabilize the steep bank.
“I’m afraid after a heavy rain, there will be a lot of erosion,” Spaulding said.
“If we don’t cut them down, we’ll be back here after they reignite,” he said, directing the firefighting effort from Route 5.
About 16 fire trucks from Ascutney, Cavendish, Proctorsville, Springfield, as well as Claremont and Charlestown, N.H., lined Route 5.
The state park, which has several camping areas along the Connecticut River, has not yet opened for the summer season.
Spaulding said Windsor firefighters initially were helping his crew fight the state park fire, but had to leave to fight their own brush fire on Route 44A. There was also a brush fire in Cornish, N.H., near the Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge, which crosses the Connecticut River.
Spaulding said he had received an email from state fire officials not to issue any burn permits until there is a soaking rain.