Local firefighters fought a fire that burned almost three acres in a wooded marsh area off of Carl Bailey Road in Bristol on Wednesday evening, June 15.
Bristol Fire Chief Paul Leeman Jr. said a cause has not been determined, and the fire remains under investigation. Maine Forest Service Ranger Dan Skillin arrived on scene Thursday morning, June 16 to assist with the investigation.
The Lincoln County Communication Center paged the Bristol Fire Department at 8:38 p.m. The caller stated they could see a fire in the woods in the area of the swamp.
Shortly after arriving on scene, Leeman said the fire was visible burning from the ground up to the tops of spruce trees that he estimated to be 20 feet tall.
“It’s pretty rare for the Bristol area,” Leeman said.
South Bristol, Damariscotta, and Bremen fire departments were paged out to provide mutual aid in the form of manpower, forestry equipment, and utility task vehicles, Leeman said.
The location of the fire provided a unique challenge on the scene. Crews had to walk or be transported through the woods and across the swamp approximately 1,200 feet in order to fight the fire, Leeman said. The command center was set up at the house near the road. Firefighters were divided into two crews and stationed on either the east or west side of the fire.
The rough terrain and the darkness also posed challenges, said Leeman.
The firefighters did have a few factors working in their favor, he said. There was little fire, and the humidity levels were up, impeding the fire from spreading through the marsh.
“Chances are that this was a slow-spreading fire, and it took a long time for anyone to see it,” Leeman said. “Smoke has a habit of hanging down close to the ground in the swampy area and, with no wind to carry it, (the fire) probably wasn’t visible until there was a glow in the sky.”
Firefighters were able to use a drone in order to get an aerial view of the property to determine the location of the fire and if any hot spots had been created away from the fire, Leeman said.
“An eye in the sky is always a good tool to have,” he said.
After extinguishing the fire and soaking the perimeter, crews left the scene around midnight, Leeman said. Bristol firefighters returned the next morning at 7:30 a.m. to soak any remaining hot spots.
Donna Henrich is the property owner, Leeman said. She was not on the property when the fire started. Leeman said he was unaware if she had been contacted.
Leeman said the fire remains under investigation.