ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Seventy years ago next month, area firefighters and their equipment were no match for the flames that swept across drought-parched Mount Desert Island.
This year, the risk of wildland fires here has been low, so Acadia was able to send four firefighters and a fire truck to help battle blazes in Montana in July and August.
A three-man Acadia team led by Tony Davis, New England Fire Management officer for the National Park Service, spent two weeks working on three fires as part of interagency crews. With him were Assistant Fire Management Officer Matt Carroll and firefighter Bryan Daigle.
As soon as they returned, on Aug. 13, Daigle and Acadia firefighter Joe Hutton, along with a firefighter from Gettysburg National Military Park, took Acadia’s “type 6” fire engine – a wildland fire truck built on a pickup frame – to Missoula, Mont.
“They drove there in three days and then started their 14-day assignment,” Davis said. “When they left to come back, they left the engine there to be staffed with other firefighters.”
A crew from Acadia flew to Montana last week to help complete the fire-firefighting operation and drive the park’s engine back home.
Meanwhile, in late August, Carroll was sent to California to serve as tree-felling boss for a cluster of wildfires, and Davis went to help with a wildfire in the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State, where he served as a division supervisor.
Davis said Acadia was able to spare the personnel and fire truck because fire dangers have been and continue to be relatively low in Maine.
“The [U.S. Forest Service’s] National Fire Danger Rating System has three categories: low, moderate, high, very high and extreme,” he said. “If we are in a very high or extreme situation, that’s when we’re going to be concerned. But there were only a couple of days this summer when we were even in the high category.”
As of Wednesday, the “predicted wildfire danger risk” was listed as “low” for all of coastal Maine and “moderate” for the rest of the state.