BELMONT/NORTHFIELD — A five-alarm brush fire that has charred at least 30 acres was threatening homes in the Gardners Grove community last night as crews from as far away as Chichester, Bristol, and Meredith struggled to stop its spread.
According to Tilton-Northfield Fire District Capt. Dave Hall, the fire began in the middle of a huge swathe of swampy wetlands around noon yesterday and spread quickly toward the Northfield Business Park on Rte. 140.
Hall said helicopter crews were helping monitor the spread of the fire from the air while WMUR television reported Gov. Maggie hassan had mobilized four helicopters to assist with this fire as well as one in Ossipee and one in Merrimack.
Rte. 140 was closed to traffic around noon except for people and employees who live on the south-west side of Rte. 140 from Shaker Road in Northfield and Jamestown Road in Belmont. At 6 p.m., Jamestown Road was closed to traffic.
At 4 p.m. the fire went to a fifth alarm that brought fire teams from Concord and other communities in the capitol area. Hall estimated that between 30 and 40 acres of grasslands had burned by that time.
Hall explained that the fire was burning dried grasses that have been exposed to sunlight and wind for about a week.
One Tilton-Northfield call firefighter said he's lived in Northfield his entire life and had never seen the "swamp" burn.
At 6 p.m., and according to the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid transmissions, two tankers were requested from neighboring communities to protect the homes in Gardners Grove on Silver Lake.
At 7:20 p.m., Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti confirmed a third command post had been set up at Gardners Grove.
A team from Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid as well as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) were assisting with water, power drinks, shade and food for the crews — some of whom had been fighting the fire for better than six hours.
CUTLINE: Acres of grassy swamp land burned yesterday in a five-alarm brush fire that brought 19 teams to Northfield and Belmont. Smoldering hot spots can be seen as crews from Meredith prepare to put them out with rakes, shovels, and portable water packs.
CUTLINE: A team of Meredith firefighters get ready to attack a grass fire that had charred about 30 acres in Northfield yesterday afternoon.
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