Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini, left, talks strategy with North Adams Fire Chief Brent Lefebvre and Lanesborough Fire Chief Charlie Durfee, right.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Fire personnel from seven towns plus North Adams battled a forest fire Friday on East Mountain.
About three dozen personnel from the fire departments of Williamstown, Clarksburg, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, North Adams and Pownal, Vt., plus the Adams Forest Wardens responded to the blaze that first was reported at 5:44 p.m.
The fire was located more than a mile from the nearest paved road, forcing firefighters to take to four-wheelers to get to the site. Initial reports indicated the fire was at least partially on property owned by the East Mountain Sportsman's Club.
By 8:25, as darkness enveloped the mountainside, the first responders were making their way down the mountain to one of two command centers that were set up to coordinate the operation.
"I don't want to get anybody hurt," Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini said, explaining the order to withdraw from the woods.
"Working in the woods at night with fires, that alone is dangerous. You can trip, you can fall, a tree can fall on you. There are so many different things that can happen up there, and you're not going to be able to see well enough to coordinate what you want to do.
"We get to a certain point at night, and we pull out. Depending on the weather, it could slow down on us a little at night, and then in the morning, it will pick up when it starts getting warmer."
Pedercini was coordinating operations from the main command center with North Adams Fire Chief Brent Lefebvre and Lanesborough Fire Chief Charlie Durfee. Williamstown Forest Warden Rick Daniels was in the woods with the crews fighting the blaze.
The effort was aided by images from drone flights provided by the Williamstown Police Department and North Adams Fire Department photographer Nick Mantello.
When the firefighters returned to base camp after dark, they were greeted by pizzas donated by The Log by Ramunto's in Williamstown.
Pedercini said firefighters will return to the woods on Saturday, likely with help from other area departments.
In 2015, it took firefighters from numerous departments three days to bring a brush fire in Clarksburg State Forest under control. That blaze burned 300 acres.