Four Alarm Fire at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens

By Jazika LevarioMarch 23, 2022

Firefight back burning on the range
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Firefighter using a blow torch to light the perimeter of the fire area on fire to start a back burn. (Photo Credit: Jaz Levario) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fire on Fort Devens South Post
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fire teams on different sides of the fire area are back burning the perimeter in an effort to control the fire. (Photo Credit: Jaz Levario) VIEW ORIGINAL
Support from local fire houses
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Nine fire houses from the surrounding cities and two fire district offices responded to the four alarm fire at Fort Devens on March 21, 2022. (Photo Credit: Jaz Levario) VIEW ORIGINAL
Monitoring the path of the fire
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fire Chiefs from different cities and Fort Devens Police looking a video drone images of the fire and monitoring it's movement. (Photo Credit: Jaz Levario) VIEW ORIGINAL
Devens Fire Chief coordinating efforts
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Devens Fire Chief, Timothy Kelly, speaking with his firefighters in the field and getting a status update. (Photo Credit: Jaz Levario) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

- 30 -