Firefighters prepare to enter the woods north of Massachusetts Avenue to contain a breakoff of the brush fire now burning in Clarksburg State Forest.
UPDATE: Firefighters made their way back up the mountain Monday morning to continue battling the brush fire.
Firefighters spent the morning organizing and North Adams Fire Chief Brent LeFevbre said once they get on scene, he will have a better sense of the current state of the blaze.
"We still have quite a bit of fire right, now but we are in the process of getting back up there and organizing up on the mountain itself," LeFevbre said. "We are spreading our resources out to knock the fire back. We want to get it burning back on itself."
Firefighters and other emergency service workers were parked along Mass Ave and Ashton Ave. The base of Wood St. is acting as a command center.
"The fire jumped on this side and came down so we have a fire line working down along Mass Ave," he said. "This is a central point of ingress and egress to come in and come out to flank it."
In Williamstown, firefighters are also staged on Henderson Road.
Before heading out to the two command centers, firefighters and other emergency services met in the former Price Chopper parking lot around 7 a.m. to receive instructions and to organize. By 8 a.m., over 50 emergency service workers were deployed. Firefighters from various departments were heading up Wood St. on All-Terrain Vehicles and on foot.
LeFevbre said the fire likely died down a bit overnight with the lower temperatures and higher moisture content.
Helicopter aerial support with water drops will continue throughout the day.
Also, Mass Ave. is closed to traffic from Ashton Ave to Protection Ave.
LeFevbre said no evacuations are being considered at the time.
"We would only start thinking about that if it was coming down within a quarter-mile," he said. "Then we would start getting people out but right now the fire is still at that three-quarters of a mile range."
Update: Sunday, May 16, 7:15 p.m.: Motorists are being cautioned to avoid Massachusetts Avenue near Ashton Avenue in North Adams as firefighters congregate there. They are heading into the woods off Wood Street as the fire is moving closer to structures.
North Adams Fire Chief Brent LeFevbre said the 1,500-to-2,000 foot fire line is an estimated half mile from the intersection of Wood Street and Massachusetts Avenue.
He said the fire, an extension of the brush fire in Clarksburg State Forest, is about 300 yards from a good water source and pumps are in place.
"We have lot of people going into the woods right now," LeFebvre said. "We should get it knocked down pretty quickly."
North Adams Police are doing traffic control. No evacuations are being considered at the time.
Officials on the scene Sunday night said motorists can anticipate road closures Monday morning to allow firefighters to cross Massachusetts Avenue to access the trail into the woods.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Officials late Sunday were making plans for a fourth straight day battling a brush fire in the forests of East Mountain and Pine Cobble that has spread east into Clarksburg.
Nearly 50 firefighters from 12 different agencies in Massachusetts and Southern Vermont were in the woods on Sunday battling the blaze that first was reported on Friday evening.
Also on Sunday, the State Police provided aerial support with water drops from a helicopter operating out of North Adams' Harriman & West Airport.
"It makes a big difference because once they get the water in the ground, they're going to turn that soil over and use it to their advantage," Williamstown Forest Warden Rick Daniels said. "We could take [portable pumps] up there and do the same thing, I guess, but you're carrying a lot of water. We don't need to carry any water in with the water drops."
Late Sunday evening, Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini said he has been told to expect several helicopters on Monday, including choppers from the State Police and Massachusetts National Guard.
The main strategy against the fire, which appears to be limited to ground cover, has been to dig, cut and rake fire lines that eliminate fuel on the edge of the blaze to eventually choke it off.
The fire, which produced plumes of smoke that could be seen for miles, had a distinct eastern and western flank by Sunday morning.
Daniels spent Sunday coordinating efforts from the East Mountain Sportsman's Club in Williamstown. A second base was established on West Road in Clarksburg, another entry point into the forest. Firefighters and equipment gathered at Clarksburg School, not far from the West Road intersection.
Daniels did not hazard a guess late Sunday about the degree of containment.
"I guess I don't have that answer right now," he said. "I don't know what they have out there. There's still live fire. They're probably going to walk out with live fire."
Officials decided Sunday afternoon to pull crews out of the woods starting at 6 p.m. to make sure everyone was down before dark.
Nearly every community within an hour of the blaze has joined the cause at some point in the last three days.
On Sunday, crews included firefighters from Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Windsor, the Williamstown Fire Department, the Williamstown Forest Warden and Vermont's Bennington, North Bennington, Bennington Rural, Shaftsbury and Stamford.
Daniels spent part of his Sunday contacting other area departments to see who might be able to send firefighters on Monday. He said the start of the work week for many of the firefighters does add an extra challenge.
"Weekend fires are great, right?" Daniels joked. "No, this is a big challenge. It's hard for some people to take a Monday off, period. It's going to be tougher, a smaller group. But it sounds like so far we've got a small crew going. We'll get some numbers later tonight.
"We're hoping the fire is smaller tomorrow, as it was today, and we're hoping it gets smaller every day until we're out."
With only a slim chance of isolated showers until Saturday, Daniels is not counting on Mother Nature to join the fight any time soon. But he also expects the firefighters to conquer the blaze before a drenching rain comes.
"Rain helps if it's a substantial, soaking rain, as you know," he said. "Rain will help our black areas if there are any hotspots in there. But I don't see it for days. We're not worried about stuff inside the black right now, and every day we're here, it's burning itself out, so that's a good thing.
"Everyone hopes [for rain], but I don't see it. I think we'll be completely out before that happens."
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Mount Greylock Schools Present Improvement Plans to School Committee
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Lanesborough Elementary School is hoping to form community partnerships to help teach its pupils about sustainability.
The kids already are leading the way.
"About five weeks ago, we had a fourth-grade group start the Lanesborough Environmental Squad club," Principal Nolan Pratt said last week. "They're all about being environmentally friendly and seeing what we can do within the school.
"That kind of inspired this goal within the School Council. We want to reach out to community partners … and do field trips to see places working on sustainability. I believe they're putting a solar field at Skyline [Country Club] for example. Maybe we can go see how that works."
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