UPDATE – Forest fire hits Missing Link Road

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

On the hill

A firefighter works up a steep hill from where the fire started. All photos by Shawn Cunningham.

More than 25 pieces of firefighting equipment from 13 departments lined Missing Link Road (Route 5) in Springfield this afternoon as more than of 40 firefighters worked in the woods up the steep incline from the road.

According to Springfield Fire Chief Russ Thompson, who was  incident commander, the fire started at a single point next to the road at the base of the hill. “It spread fast up the hill,” said Thompson. “Then it hit a plateau where the wind spread it fast as well.”

A tanker dumps a load of water to be pumped up the hill to the fire

A tanker dumps a load of water to be pumped up the hill to the fire.

Hoses snaked from the road up the hill, and occasionally a burst of spray or a yellow brush fire uniform could be seen from the base, but most of the action was beyond view from the road. Four ATVs moved firefighters and equipment around the hill.

“They’re on top of it now,” Thompson said just after 1:30 p.m. “But we’re still going to be here for a while.”

State Fire Investigator Steve Otis and State Police Sgt. Tom Williams inspected the point where the fire started. “It could be something like a cigarette,” said Otis, “or it could be something worse.”

State Police Sargent Tom Williams (left) and State Fire Inspector Steve Otis examine an area where the fire began

State Police Sgt. Tom Williams, left, and State Fire Inspector Steve Otis examine an area where the fire began.

Otis noted that another fire had started along the side of Route 5 just north of Bellows Falls, about an hour or so after the Missing Link blaze. State highway crews called that fire in and, according to firefighters covering the Rockingham fire station, the fire was out before they arrived.

The two fires made Otis uneasy. “It’s wrong to put these guys in danger,” said Otis pointing to the volunteer firefighters working the scene.

Lt. James Smith of the Rockingham Fire Department, among the first to arrive, described the work. “When we came up to it there was a pretty good brush fire going,” said Smith. He and a fire officer from the Bellows Falls Department began the strenuous work of moving heavy hoses up the hill. “It’s pretty steep and it’s hard work but we got enough water and manpower here and then it worked out,” said Smith.

The area where the fire was started.

The area where the fire was started.

“I’m getting a little too old for this,” said Smith with a smile.

Departments from Springfield, Rockingham, Bellows Falls, Westminster, Chester, Ascutney, Ludlow, Reading, Weathersfield, Proctorsville and Cavendish in Vermont as well as Charleston and Walpole, N.H., responded to the fire.

Earlier today

A large number of local fire departments lead by Springfield and Rockingham have been called to a “working forest fire” on the inland side of Route 5 at 618 Missing Link Road in the Town of Springfield.

The first alarm was called at 11:18 a.m. with both Springfield and Rockingham responding to a brush fire near the town line.

A second alarm was called in at 11:25 a.m. when a Springfield engine arrived on the scene and reported that the fire was climbing the hill.  At 11:30 a.m. a mutual aid call was made to Ascutney for an engine and forest rig and Proctorsville and Chester for tankers and forest rigs. Springfield dispatch has told responders to set up to fill tankers from the nearby boat landing.

At 11:51 the incident commander on the scene asked for Reading and West Windsor to be called for their all terrain vehicles. Chester was also bringing an ATV. At 11:56 a.m. “­Route 5 Command” called for a Green Mountain Power crew because two high tension poles were “near or could be involved with” the fire. The incident command also reported that the land owner was assisting with access to an uphill area.

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  1. Joan Angell says:

    Thank you for reporting on this on Facebook otherwise. I live just south of this area just off off route 5 and we happened to go by there at about 6:00 and wondered about it.