By Jaz Levario
U.S. Army Reserve Fort Devens Public Affairs
March 23, 2022
Devens, Massachusetts – On March 21, 2022, around 4 p.m., a fire started on Fort Devens’ south post range. Due to the high winds, the fire moved rapidly through the area, and Tom Dodson, Fort Devens Range Operations Officer, called in support from Devens Fire Department.
Upon arrival, Timothy Kelly, Devens Fire Chief, assessed the situation. With more than 100 acres of grass and brush on fire, the fire was escalated to a four-alarm fire, and additional fire departments were called in to assist with fighting the fire.
Kelly said, “the difficulty is that the fire burns in an impact area. This impact area is about 650 acres that have been used by the Army for training since 1918, creating an area of unexploded ordinances and munitions, meaning firefighters can’t enter that area safely and have to work from the outside and from isolated fire roads that run through the impact area.”
Kelly believes that a fire started when a training round struck a metal object in the impact area, causing a spark that ignited dried brush. Brush fires are common this time of year due to it being drier.
Patricia Correia, DCR District 8 Forest Fire, said, “this time of year is drier…windy conditions and dryness tend to accelerate fire growth.”
The fire teams decided to utilize a back burn technique, essentially burning dried brush fueling the fire, causing the fire to burn back into itself and containing it in the fire area, allowing it to burn out safely. As of 3 p.m. on March 22, 2022, firefighting personnel had burned around the entire perimeter of the fire area, isolating the fire to the impact area.
Forestry and Fire Departments from Fort Devens Range Control, Devens, Ayer, Lancaster, Shirley, Harvard, Bolton, Boxborough, Leominster, Clinton, Fire District 8, and Fire District 6 were on the scene both days and assisted in fighting the fire. There were no injuries and no structural damage; the fire burned approximately 350 acres.
Every year Fort Devens fire personnel conduct a controlled burn to eliminate dried brush as fuel for fires and to prevent fires from unexpectedly igniting and getting out of hand.
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens provides premier training capabilities and base operations support to the Total Force in New England.
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