Worcester, Mass. Brush Fire Threatened Homes

(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) – The windy and dry conditions helped fuel a small fire that threatened a few homes.

It happened Sunday night near the intersection of Trahan Avenue and Cohasset Street.

“It kept getting bigger and bigger and spreading. We were getting nervous,” says Samantha Manzello.

She watched in fear as flames tore through the woods behind her Worcester, Mass. house.

A brush fire sparked Sunday night burned through three acres of land, coming within 100 feet of bordering homes.

Crews were able to get it under control in about an hour.

“I was getting nervous because of the fences; the brush comes right up to the fences and they could have easily caught on fire,” she says.

The mild winter and lack of rain have firefighters on the watch for brush fires.

Worcester Fire Chief Geoffrey Gardell says the number of calls this spring is above average.

“There's quite a bit of debris and a lot of fuel so we were very concerned about that,” he says.

Gardell says the department's forestry truck responds to the calls.

The vehicle helps firefighters gain access to areas their 2,000-pound fire trucks can't get to, but he says the dry weather has brought the truck out much earlier than normal.

“We usually don't set this truck up for forestry fires until May, but, this year, it's out early,” he says.

Gardell says fighting brush fires can be difficult.

It requires a lot of man power and is very labor intensive.

He says adding high winds to the mix makes it worse.

“They're fed by dry air and wind. So we have to contain a large area, they spread out and have to cover a lot of ground,” he says.

Taking precautions can help prevent brush fires from starting.

Gardell says to pay close attention when cooking outside and to call the fire department as soon as a brush fire starts.

He says the sooner they respond, the easier it is to contain.

In the meantime, the biggest help would be rain.

“We need a good three to four days of soaking rain to make a difference right now.”

Here are some Red Flag Warning Fire safety tips:

•Dispose of smoking materials in appropriate container
•Do not burn brush or trash ever without appropriate approval
•Be extremely careful when using outside grills
•If you have fireplace ashes; you must put them into a sealed metal container
•Workers using power tools that generate sparks should be mindful
•Use common sense and practice sound fire safety habits

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