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Crews Working to Wet Down Mount Tom to Help Prevent Brush Fires


HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — Fire crews from several communities gather on Mount Tom Wednesday to soak the dry woods.

Even with today’s rain, the woods on the mountain will remain too dry for comfort.

The flames are still burning, the smoke still rising and the rain alone won’t be enough to bring down the fire danger on Mount Tom.

Tuesday’s relatively small brush fire on the mountain put crews in motion.

“We have about 10 acres of burnt property. The problem is there is about six inches of vegetation on top that is smoldering and the ground is so dry. It’s going to burn underground if we cut the fire line by hand,” says Easthmpton Fire Chief David Mottor.

The fire coupled with parched conditions, brought crews into the woods to give the area a good soaking.

“The crews are going in with hand tools like rakes and specialized axes. They are actually going to be digging down through the top layers through the organic layer to mineral earth to prevent the spread of fire outside of that.”

And even with our long dry spell coming to an end, it wont be enough to satisfy those in charge of keeping Mount Tom safe.

Mottor adds, “The forecasted rain fall total…it probably isn’t enough to penetrate and give a deep soaking like the woods need up here. There is an excessive amount of fuel load on the ground up here and anything less than an inch of rain isn’t going to have an impact.”

And the rising danger on Mount Tom has been years in the making.

“Between the ice storm of 2009 and the blizzard of 2011, there’s large amounts of fuel loads in the woods. Anywhere in western Mass. could rapidly become a major brush fire.”

Crews from Westover assisted in the operation.

Officials say a steady rain is needed to keep the vegetation free of fire danger.

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