Local fire departments had a busy day Friday when they were called to Bethlehem to battle a two-acre brush fire that ended up taking two days to fully extinguish.

The fire - the cause of which is undetermined - broke out in the late afternoon of Friday along Ian’s Way, accessed from Cleos Way.

“It was down there halfway to the river and it turned into quite a project,” Bethlehem Fire Chief Jack Anderson said Monday.

Responding to the initial call on Friday were the Bethlehem, Littleton, Sugar Hill, Twin Mountain, and Whitefield fire departments.

Then came nightfall.

“We contained it and let it burn because it’s not safe to be in the woods at night fighting fires,” said Anderson.

The next morning, crews that included Bethlehem, Sugar Hill, Lisbon, Lancaster, Whitefield firefighters returned.

“We congregated at the Bethlehem town garage around 7 or 7:30, had a meeting, and went back in there and mopped it all up,” he said.

The fire was fully out by mid-afternoon on Saturday, though not without a lot of hard work.

“When you stop and think about it, two acres is a pretty good size,” said Anderson. “It burned down into moss and peat moss and we had to dig every little bit out.”

Balls of flame would come out with the full shovels.

“You give it some air and look out,” said Anderson.

Also assisting were the Department of Forests and Lands and rangers.

The fire hit a time when the local woods were drying out from lack of precipitation and reaching the danger point for fires. That changed Sunday with the first soaking rain in some time, and more rain to come this week.

“Those forest fires, when they get like that, are awful,” said Anderson. “This rain we’re getting now is tremendous and is going to help out a lot.”

Fortunately, brush fires like Friday’s are rare in Bethlehem, he said.

“These things travel and go into every nook and cranny and you have to dig it out and can’t just put water on it,” said Anderson. “There’s a way of doing things. It’s not a grass fire when you put it out in a field and go about your business. These get into soft wood and moss around rocks.”

Fortunately, too, there are experienced firefighters in the area who can fight brush fires, he said.

Bethlehem fire crews had a busy week.

A few days earlier, on June 22, they were called to 155 Trudeau Road for a camper trailer fire against a mobile home that ignited the home’s deck.


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