EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 11, 2014

Dry conditions tied to multiple brush fires along I-93

ANDOVER — Four separate brush fires broke out shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday along Interstate 93 South, prompting numerous emergency 911 calls to the Andover Fire Department.

“The cause is undetermined, but certainly curious, considering the timing,” Andover Deputy Fire Chief Keith Weightman said last night.

“There’s a lot of debris and trash along the side of the road — car parts, clothing, bottles, paper trash and, you name it, it’s out there. It makes an investigation very difficult,” he said.

But Weightman also noted it was day where conditions were hazardous enough to prohibit burning.

“Today was considered a Class Four Day, which is a high-fire danger, with the wind and the dry surface conditions which cause fires to spread rapidly,” Weightman said.

“People look out and see all the mud and think it’s really wet. It doesn’t burn deep into the ground, but it burns across the surface and moves fast. The very top is very dry and spreads fairly quickly. Especially with a little bit of wind, it takes right off,” he said.

“Methuen also had a brush fire on 93 South, north of the bridge. They took care of theirs. It took us 20 minutes to get them all knocked down and make sure they weren’t going to spark up again. One of the fires down near the Chateau burned into the (cattails,)” he said.

The Fire Department deployed two fire engine trucks, two brush trucks and a ladder truck to the scenes, about a two-mile stretch from Dascomb Road to Chandler Road. State Police also assisted with a police cruiser at the scene and a helicopter from its air support unit based at Lawrence Municipal Airport spotting the fires from the sky.

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