EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 14, 2010

Brush fire breaks out in Derry

DERRY — A quick-moving brush fire scorched a half-acre off Linlew Drive yesterday afternoon before it could be extinguished.

The fire broke out about 2:30 p.m. in a meadow known as Zappa Hill and was extinguished by approximately 3:30 p.m. as firefighters battled the flames and smoke in the intense heat and humidity, according to Battalion Chief David Hoffman of the Derry Fire Department.

"It was moving faster than I could run," Hoffman said, explaining how the flames - only a few feet high - quickly spread across the field. "It was consuming all the vegetation in its path, but it wasn't a major forest fire."

With the high humidity and temperatures in the 80s, crews were called in from Windham and Chester to make sure there were enough firefighters available to fight the fire.

"That was definitely my biggest concern - someone getting overheated out there," Hoffman said. He said the high humidity level may have even prevented the fire from spreading more rapidly.

The Chester Fire Department brought its Gator vehicle to expedite the transfer of firefighters and supplies.

"That really helps to speed up operations," Hoffman said. A water tanker and three forestry vehicles also responded.

None of the 15 firefighters required medical treatment and no buildings were at risk, Hoffman said. The closest buildings were apartments and a factory about 500 feet away. Firefighters remained on the scene for about half an hour after the flames were extinguished to make sure a second fire did not break out.

The fire's cause could not be determined, and there were no witnesses, Hoffman said. Yesterday was a Class 2 fire day throughout New Hampshire, meaning there was a moderate chance of fire danger, according to the state Division of Forests and Lands.

Zappa Hill received its name about 30 years ago because there was a water tower on the site on which someone painted a mural of musician Frank Zappa, Hoffman said.

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