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Sue Bush
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Suspicious Fire Scorches Six Acres

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, April 29, 2006

Flames scorched over six acres of rugged wooded terrain on April 29. Fire officials termed the fire suspicious.
Pownal, Vt. - Town fire department officials termed an April 29 fire to be of suspicious origins and confirmed that an investigation into the blaze, which scorched about six acres of rugged terrain, is underway. Officials declined further comment.


Firefighter David Dence used a chainsaw on one burning tree, while behind him, another tree was in flames.
Pownal Valley Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Joel Howard said that firefighters were called to the Mann Hill Road South area at about 5:10 p.m.. Howard was part of the first firefighting team to arrive at the site and he immediately called for mutual assistance from neighboring communities.

Howard said that a significant number of town firefighters were out of town and attending fire fighter education and training sessions, and he could see that the fire had gotten a good start. Firefighters and fire trucks from the Bennington Rural and Bennington Village fire departments, the Williamstown, Mass. fire department, and the Hoosick, N.Y. fire department responded to the fire scene and to town fire houses.

Teams of firefighters attacked the flames using rakes, portable water pumps, forestry brooms, shovels, and chainsaws. Howard said that flames had burned many trees, and a number of those trees were crashing to the ground while engulfed in flames as firefighters traveled through the woods.

"It was a very dangerous, very hot fire," he said.

Firefighter Ralph Lillie loaded an all-terrain vehicle with portable water pumps that were then transported to firefighters who were battling the blaze.


All-terrain vehicles were utilized to carry equipment and water to the firefighters. Mann Hill Road South and most of Ladd Brook Road were closed to traffic. Vehicles were diverted over Hidden Valley Road or made to travel up Route 7; at least one resident of Mann Hill Road South was forced to wait until the fire was under control before he was permitted to drive to his home.


Jody Tornabene used an all-terrain vehicle to deliver water to firefighters imbedded in the burning woods.
Scorched earth was visible for as far as one could see and numerous pockets of flame were still visible at 8 p.m.. Howard said that he expected town firefighters to be at the scene for at least an additional three hours.

The affected acreage is owned by multiple individuals. Land owned by George and Helen Renner, Otto Raetz, and the Dingnon family was burned in the blaze.

Williamstown firefighter Nick DeBenedetto hauled hose out of the woods.


Members of the Pownal Rescue Squad were at the scene throughout the firefighting effort. No injuries had been reported as of 8 p.m..

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