EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

May 8, 2014

Brush fires threaten homes

Neighbors thank firefighters for halting flames

HAVERHILL — It was a double challenge for firefighters.

After yesterday’s fire at the Forest Acres apartments was under control, a series of nasty brush fires kept firefighters scrambling to keep flames from reaching homes on nearby Braewood Drive and other streets.

Andy Regan, district fire warden for Essex County, said the region is now in a “very high’’ warning stage for brush and forest fires.

Regan, who was on the fire scene yesterday, said the brush fires affected 29 acres of woodland. But because of the time of year, the fire did not reach down into the soil, which is still wet.

“The humidity (yesterday) was very low, which makes these fuels in the forest more susceptible to fire,” Regan said. “And the winds didn’t help, as it pushed the fire along.”

Fire officials said the brush fires were spread by strong winds. Firefighters were having trouble reaching the fires from the Forest Acres apartments property, so they tried to enter the woods from nearby Cedardale Athletic Club. Police used ATVs to bring water to firefighters battling the brush fires.

“This thing is getting out of control quickly,’’ a firefighter said over the department’s scanner just before 3 p.m. yesterday.

According to reports on the Fire Department scanner, the brush fires stopped at a brook near Cedardale, but then began spreading to either side of the brook. The fires then began spreading back toward the Forest Acres apartments.

Regan said the prime concern was for many homes near the wooded area, but that none were touched by the fire.

Some residents in neighborhoods near the burning apartment building worried that the fire might spread through the woods and threaten their homes.

“My wife and I had gone out for lunch,” said Steve Miller, 47, who lives on Sherwood Drive, just southeast of Forest Acres Drive. “When we came back, we saw the smoke and said, ‘Oh, that’s really close.’

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