Tuesday July 10, 2012

TYRINGHAM -- Firefighters from six towns spent Monday evening battling a forest fire that scorched 20 acres of privately owned woods -- the equivalent of 15 football fields.

The smoky blaze broke out sometime before 4:45 p.m. on a ridge between Forest Street and Goose Pond Road in Tyringham, said Lee Fire Chief Alan Sparks. More than 60 firefighters responded, and crews had the fire contained by 7:30 p.m.

Sparks said no one was injured and the fire didn't threaten any homes.

As for the cause, Sparks said it was unlikely officials would ever know what set off the fire, although he said he didn't consider it suspicious.

"It could be a camper, or someone just walking through the woods -- we really don't know," he said.

The land is owned by Andrew and Juliana Willey of Hinsdale.

Reached at her home, Juliana Willey said the property is essentially wild, but that she and her husband plan to eventually build a home there.

Firefighters on the scene described the terrain as steep, rocky and rugged. The fire companies staged at the base of the ridge on Stonebridge Way, a loop off of Goose Pond Road. The fire, about a half mile up the ridge, was only accessible via all terrain vehicles and Lee Fire Department's M35 21 2 ton cargo truck -- a rugged vehicle typically used by the U.S. military.

Because of the difficulties accessing and moving around the scene, Sparks said he planned to call all personnel out of the area by sundown despite the fact that there were still a few hot spots remaining.


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The state forest warden planned to send a crew up this morning to extinguish any remaining embers.

The fire was first spotted by motorists on Route 102 near South Lee.

After Sparks was able to confirm the reports, a state helicopter circled the area and was able to pinpoint the fire's location and size.

The responding fire crews were from Tyringham, Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge, Otis and Becket.