EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 4, 2013

Fire officials on high alert

(Continued)

Two brush fires have been reported in Londonderry in the past week, one along Interstate 93, the other near Manchester Boston Regional Regional Airport, he said.

Yesterday, Pelham firefighters doused a small brush fire in woods off Dutton Road and there was one reported the day before in Chester.

Salem Fire Marshal Jeffrey Emanuelson said his department usually responds to 25 to 30 brush fires each spring.

“Knock on wood — we’ve been pretty lucky so far,” he said.

Fire officials said although the gusts are expected to subside within the next 24 hours, the biggest threat is the abundance of downed trees, limbs, dry leaves and grass on the ground.

“Obviously, with these winds and we are in such a dry season, it’s a concern,” Windham fire Chief Tom McPherson said. “Our biggest concern is the vegetation.”

McPherson and Lawrence fire Chief Jack Bergeron said now is the ideal time to clean up yard debris that could easily catch fire.

Some people requested permits yesterday, but were told they would have to burn their debris another day, Andover firefighter Dennis Sullivan said.

Permitted burns are allowed in Massachusetts until May 1. New Hampshire regulations vary, depending on the community.

“People are now starting to scramble to get their open burning in before the deadline,” Mieth said.

But in communities with more than 50,000 residents such as Lawrence, permitted burns are outlawed, Bergeron said. He has other concerns.

“All it takes is a discarded cigarette,” Bergeron said yesterday. “On a day like today, it’s amazing how high a flame can go.”

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