Oct 282013

Groton Fire Chief Joe Bosselait declared the stubborn brush fire in the Massachusetts Audubon Rocky Hill Wildlife Sanctuary “contained” at 4:30 Monday afternoon. Crews from Groton, Ayer, and a number of other area towns have been on the site since Friday, when a smoldering fire was reported on an island in the middle of a beaver pond.

The sanctuary is off Route 119, in the northwest corner of the Four Corners neighborhood.

Crews from Groton and Ayer extinguished that blaze, but it traveled underground and reignited on the shore on Saturday. Crews had some effect on Saturday, but Sunday’s higher winds spread the flames, two to three feet high, through dense brush and fallen leaves until the fire covered about 10 acres, Bosselait said. Fire crews used floating pumps feeding hand lines to fight the fire. The crews used all terrain vehicles, 4×4 forestry trucks, and converted military all-wheel drive trucks to reach the location, about a mile from the nearest road access. Crews worked from dawn to dusk each day, but retired each evening as a safety precaution.

Cooler temperatures and less wind today helped about 25 firefighters contain the blaze, although hot spots remain. Bosselait said Groton Fire would continue monitoring the area for several days, until forecast rain at the end of this week soak the ground.

Bosselait made a point of thanking Rob Johnson, State Fire Warden for Northern Middlesex County, for his help and the assistance of the state Bureau of Forest Fire Control.

No buildings were near the fire site, off the Heron trail at the sanctuary, and no one was injured during the four-day firefight. Reports that a campfire was the original cause of the blaze could not be confirmed.

Massachusetts Audubon officials have not yet made a public comment. “Our people have been on site and in communications with Groton public safety personnel, but I should have more tomorrow,” Michael P. O’Connor, the society’s Public Relations Manager, wrote in an email.