Firefighters lay hoses in the woods near Echo Lake beach during the early stage of a multiagency wildland firefighting exercise. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Fire exercise ‘saves’ Camp Beech Cliff

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The soccer field at Camp Beech Cliff wasn’t on fire Saturday morning, but a Maine Forest Service helicopter dropped several large bucketsful of water on it anyway.

It was part of a firefighting exercise that also involved firefighters from the four towns on Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

The make-believe fire started at a small cabin near the parking lot at Echo Lake beach and quickly spread into the surrounding woods. Fire crews from Southwest Harbor, Tremont and the park responded. Then the wind pushed the fire up the western side of Echo Lake toward Camp Beech Cliff, where fire crews from Bar Harbor, Mount Desert and the Forest Service joined the effort to contain the blaze and save the buildings. In all, more than two dozen firefighters took part.

Planning for the exercise was led by Tony Davis, the North Country Interagency Fire management officer for the National Park Service, who is based at Acadia.

“I think it was successful,” he said Monday. “We did our after-action review, and everybody seemed to learn something.

“The fire chiefs had the opportunity to take unified command and figure out how we would work together in the event that something really did happen. I think there’s a good cohesive spirit among the fire departments, all wanting to work together.”

Davis said he thinks it would be good to conduct a joint firefighting exercise such as the one on Saturday every year.

“As all of the volunteer fire departments know, we have a lack of manpower, so we’ve got to do more with less,” he said. “Having mutual aid drills is a way to bring people together and kind of multiply our force if something big happens.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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