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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
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North Adams Outdoor Burning Ban

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, March 30, 2006

North Adams - Outdoor burning has been banned within the city until the area receives a soaking rain. The decision followed a pair of March 30 fires reported less than 30 minutes apart. Burning permits will not be issued until further notice.

"We need a soaking rain to saturate the undergrowth and vegetation," said fire department Lt. Joseph Beverly during a March 30 interview.

City firefighters were called to the Brickyard Court area at about 12:50 p.m. to extinguish a blaze that was burning along a footpath located at the westerly side of the apartment complex. The fire was not a permitted burn and may have been the result of a discarded cigarette. Beverly said that about 1/4 of an acre was scorched during the blaze.

Firefighters were ready to return to the firehouse when they were called at about 1:10 p.m. to 543 South State Street. Bruce Hayden was burning two piles of brush when a gust of wind caused one of the fires to spread and ignite some nearby bushes. A permit had been issued for the outdoor burning, Beverly said.

"The wind came up and the fire just got away from him," Beverly said.

Firefighters had to utilize a Dean Street fire hydrant as a water source because a tanker truck was almost emptied at the previous fire. Gusts of wind kept the blaze moving and firefighters spent about 90 minutes putting the fire out. About one-and-a-half to two acres of the property were burned before the flames were extinguished, Beverly said.

Recent dry weather conditions coupled with warmer temperatures and a lack of winter snow and spring rains have created a fire-friendly environment. Beverly said the earth underfoot is extremely dry.

"I mean, the ground under our feet was hard and believe me, it wasn't frozen," he said. "It was dry, which is very unusual for this time of year around here."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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