Brush fires damage an acre at World War I Park

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By Max

Two brush fires caused damage to an acre of the World War I park on Monday, according to Fire Chief Christopher Coleman.

The fires were located near Balancing Rock, in between the lower parking lot and Julia’s Garden. It was reported by multiple people around 3 p.m. and brought under control by 5:30 p.m. Because there were many people in the park that day, the area was evacuated and the park closed.

“When you come down the path right in the area of the ski slope, there was a fire to the right going downhill and a fire to the left going uphill,” said Coleman on Tuesday.

Due to the multiple reports, two engines were sent to the scene, and a short time later, mutual aid from Attleboro, Plainville, and Cumberland, R.I. was requested, along with two brush units from the state’s Forest Fire Control. All told, six engines, a brush truck, a tanker truck, and the brush units were dispatched with a crew of more than 30 firefighters.

Coleman said that the terrain was a challenge and vehicles couldn’t get over the rocky paths. Fire crews went in on foot with lines and tools, and Coleman credited their hard work in bringing the fire under control. A drone was used later to get an aerial view and ensure the fire was out. No injuries were reported and the park was re-opened by 6 p.m.

“It was not quite an acre, but it had the potential to be much more,” said Coleman.

The high winds that day were another issue and could have potentially made the fires worse. Coleman said the department receives weather-related warnings every day, and when winds can become as high as 50 MPH, more staffing is added. As to the cause, Coleman said there were multiple possibilities, such as an ember from a campfire or discarded cigarette and at this time, neither fire appears to be suspicious.