Two outdoor Pittsfield fires burn more than 10 acres

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PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Fire Department is still investigating two outdoor fires that sparked Sunday afternoon, in the vicinities of Miss Hall's School and Springside Park.

Beyond land damage, no injuries or structure damage was reported in the two incidents.

According to a fire department report, the fire near Miss Hall's School was called in at around 12:48 p.m., and involved a more than 5-acre wooded area by the school's softball field and the railroad tracks. Engine 6 arrived on the scene to see the blaze encroaching on a storage structure containing equipment for the school's athletic fields. The Engine 6 crews kept the fire in check and was able to put it out by 5 p.m., with support from Engine 1 and the department's Forestry Truck 11. Engine 6 remained on the scene after that time to check for hot spots. No additional flare ups were reported as of Monday morning.

Deputy Fire Chief Mark Cancilla said that the Miss Hall's fire is believed to have been ignited by sparks spread by a passing train.

"Sometimes they throw off sparks, with the wheels and tracks being metal to metal. We had a few pretty major fires caused the same way a few years ago. Conditions are dry now, so it doesn't take much," Cancilla said.

The Springside Park fire was reported around 2:26 p.m., and also covered more than 5 acres of wooded area. Engines 5 and 2 responded to that scene and also had the fire under control by 5 p.m. The Engine 5 crew remained on the scene after that time to check for hot spots.

Though the cause of the park fire is still under investigation, the fire department report noted that open burning was canceled Sunday morning due to a National Weather Service advisory of elevated fire weather potential.

"With rain expected, we'll still be permitting burning today, but people still need to be very careful," said Deputy Cancilla on Monday morning.

He said brush fires should be at least 75 feet away from any structure and that people should constantly keep the fire under watch, with a water hose ready.

Open burning season will continue through Sunday, May 1, as permitted in each Massachusetts community. For more information on state open burning guidelines, contact your local fire department or visit http://ow.ly/4n3Ocm.

Contact reporter Jenn Smith at 413-496-6239.


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