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Drought contributes to fire near Moose Mountain

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/14/2020 6:43:22 PM
Modified: 9/14/2020 9:26:42 PM

HANOVER — Fire crews from around the Upper Valley spent hours Sunday battling a forest fire near Moose Mountain, which was made worse by a weeks-long drought and treacherous terrain, according to Hanover Fire Chief Martin McMillan.

“It was very difficult,” McMillan said. “It was a very steep slope with large blocks of granite.”

The blaze, which started on a hill off of Goss Road near a quarry, about three miles north of Enfield, was called in by a neighbor who saw the smoke Saturday night, McMillan said.

A small crew of firefighters went out to check on the fire, but couldn’t start putting it out until the next morning because the circumstances — including the darkness and the difficult terrain — made it too dangerous, he said.

Instead, firefighters planned to fight the flames in the morning, calling in help from surrounding dep artments including Canaan, Enfield, Grafton, Lebanon and more in New Hampshire. They also got help from departments in Vermont, including Hartland, Thetford, Vershire, Hartford and others.

“It required a tremendous amount of people,” McMillan said.

On Sunday morning, firefighters brought around 1,000 feet of hose up the rocky hill and battled the fire until around 1 p.m. McMillan said the fire was relatively small, at a little under an acre, and that firefighters spent some of the time searching for pockets of smoke in the woods.

They stayed at the spot for the remainder of the afternoon, looking for additional signs of fire or smoke in the ground, McMillan said.

He said authorities believe the fire was started by a lightning strike, possibly one that happened several weeks ago.

Because of the recent drought and dry ground, the fire could have been “burning deep” before reaching the surface, he said.

The dryness also made putting out the fire more difficult, because crews had to “dig down and soak the ground,” McMillan said.

“It’s so dry, it burns deep,” he added.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

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