Dry, windy conditions fuel brush fire in Cornish near Claremont line

  • Firefighters tend to the remnants of a brush fire on Route 12A in Cornish, N.H., near the Claremont town line on April 5, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/5/2021 5:29:27 PM
Modified: 4/5/2021 9:20:36 PM

CORNISH — Fire crews closed a stretch of Route 12A Monday afternoon to battle a brush fire that threatened at least one home as it was fueled by high winds and dry conditions.

Cornish Selectboard Chairman John Hammond said around 4:25 p.m. that the fire had come near a rental home he owns east of the railroad tracks at Balloch’s Crossing along Route 12A.

“The whole east side of Route 12A is pretty well blackened,” said Hammond, who was speaking by cell phone as he stood in the driveway of his farm by the Connecticut River, where he has horses and cattle by the rail crossing. “Things are so dry, it’s hard to extinguish everything.”

Hammond said the fire “came up to the (rental) house and went right around it,” and that firefighters from several towns were working to contain the fire. “There are a lot of people on the ground. It’s so windy that there’s a lot of smoke down here.”

Cornish Police said via Facebook around 4 p.m. that Route 12A from West Claremont to the 12% Solution store is closed due to the brush fire.

The National Weather Service also has said “red flag warnings” are in effect for much of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Those mean “that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior,” the warning said.

Hammond said he could see “a fair-size tree” that’s down near a main power line north of the rail crossing.

“My suspicion is it probably broke the wire and started the fire, but I don’t know,” said Hammond.

He said firefighters appeared to have “figured out what their line of attack is,” but the conditions were still difficult.

“It’s so windy, unless they completely extinguish it, it doesn’t take much to flare up again,” Hammond said.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.

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