The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 4, 2001


Brush fire damages woods, threatens Suffolk Lane house

When Cecile Sandwen looked out of her window about 5 p.m. last Saturday afternoon she saw a lot of smoke and a line of fire coming through the woods toward her Suffolk Lane house. She called to her husband, to call the fire department. When it was all over at 9:16 p.m., 16 firefighters and five pieces of equipment from Carlisle and a mutual-aid tanker from Hanscom Field had responded and 8 to 12 acres of woods had burned.

“It takes a lot of help”

The fire came within a few feet of Sandwen’s deck, charred her back yard and did some plant damage. She reports seeing a birch tree 25 feet away from the deck “going up like a torch.” There was no damage to the house itself, and she feels it a stroke of luck that she was home to report the fire (no one else did) because her son’s regular 4 p.m. ball practice had been changed that day.

The fire appeared to have originated near Stoney Gate and Pilgrim Path and spread through the woods. There was an out-of-control permit fire on Stoney Gate Saturday morning around 10:30, but fire captain David Flannery says these were two separate fires, and quotes a lieutenant who was at both fires stating that the 10:30 fire “was thoroughly out” when the Carlisle crews left at 11:10 a.m. The resident at the earlier Stoney Gate fire was not at home when the later fire was reported.

Flannery said “it takes a lot of help” to deal with brush fires. The Hanscom tanker truck was needed for water and repeated trips were made to the cistern on Davis Road for additional water. The Concord Fire Department sent a truck over to the Carlisle station so that the town was covered while local firefighters were engaged with the brush fire. Over the weekend there were also brush fires on Berry Corner Road, Oak Knoll Road, and Baldwin Road. On Sunday, April 29, Carlisle sent mutual aid for a structure fire in Acton where there was water at the scene and the Carlisle hose lines were needed.

Safety recommendations

Flannery recommended that residents who burn need to keep a buffer zone between the fire and adjacent woods. Sandwen’s recommendation was simply, “If you smell smoke, check it out.” Police dispatcher Mike Taplin said there can be as many as 125 to 150 burning permit requests per weekend day at the end of the open burning season. This season was particularly heavy on requests, following a winter whose late snowmelt caused most burning permits to be issued in just the last few months. The total number of permits issued reached 936, twenty-five more than last year. Even with the high number of open fires occurring during any spring weekend, Taplin said that the majority of people “are pretty responsible. Only a small percentage of the fires ever cause any trouble,” even with this spring’s windy and dry conditions.

+YEAR+ The Carlisle Mosquito