TREMONT — A large brush fire on Clydesdale Way in Tremont reignited on Sept. 15, causing members of the department to spend the night at the scene.
Chief Keith Higgins of the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department said that the fire was the result of a previous fire that had been burned at the site months ago, the embers of which were reignited by high winds.
“Wind, it rekindled from a previous fire,” Higgins said of the cause. “[The owner] had a brush fire here back in December.”
Chief Higgins said the fire had been smoldering in a gravel pit owned by John Goodwin Jr. Construction since December, buried deep beneath the brush pile.
It is also not the first time this year that this particular brush pile has reignited.
“Ten months it’s been buried underground,” said Higgins. “[We] came back here in April for a smoldering fire.”
The recent dry weather conditions and high winds gave the smoldering embers the kick they needed to reignite into flames.
“They’re basically just underneath, and they’re just starving, waiting for that wind,” said Higgins. “It’s been a really dry season.”
A lot of water was needed to smother the flames, and tankers needed constant refilling, but luckily the firefighters were able to draw from nearby ponds, even draining one, to get the water needed to fight the fire for hours.
“We drafted directly from a small pond right there,” said Higgins, “and we drained that.”
While the brush pile burned throughout the night under the supervision of firefighters, the flames had been subdued and were under control about two hours after firefighters had arrived at the scene.
“Flames won’t be out for a long time,” Higgins said on the scene at 6 p.m. after almost five hours of fighting the fire. “It really was probably about two hours before we felt confident we had the spot fires under control.”
The next morning, John Goodwin Jr. Construction employees cleaned up the debris from the brush pile using excavators.
“They’ve been very cooperative and very helpful,” Higgins said of the construction company.
Tremont Volunteer Fire Department was joined at the scene by the fire departments of Southwest Harbor, Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Cranberry Isles, Trenton, Lamoine and Ellsworth. Crews from Islesford and Swan’s Island arrived by boat to help. Between 40 and 50 firefighters, both full time and volunteer, were on site. Members of the Tremont and Southwest Harbor departments monitored the fire overnight, working in shifts until morning.
Joining the response were Maine Forest Service rangers, who came with helicopters to check the perimeter for spot fires from the air, and an Acadia National Park fire unit that checked on the ground. Southwest Harbor-Tremont Ambulance Service also responded to the scene and no injuries were reported.