THORNTON – At least one area resident responsible for inadvertently setting forest fires will be required to reimburse for services rendered.
Campton/Thornton Fire Chief David Tobine and his crews were called to the scene of forest fire on April 20 that set roughly one acre of woodlands aflame in the early afternoon on Holland Trail in Waterville Estates. Crews from Plymouth, Ashland, Woodstock and Holderness were also called to the scene.
The fire burned for more than two hours and threatened surrounding homes. Authorities later determined the fire started after local resident John Greenler dumped cinders from his woodstove. Greenler will pay as much as $1,000 for the cost of services, in addition to receiving a possible summons for the citation.
As fire crews contained the Holland Trail blaze, another fire in nearby Upper Mad River Road was spotted. Tobine said the second fire was much smaller, but residents in the area lost control of a brush fire and crews then extinguished the second fire.
State forest rangers will file the charges, not the town, said Tobine. Depending on the severity of the fires, people found to be responsible for setting fires can be fined up to $2,000 in addition to service costs. “Sometimes people get fines that can just be sent through the mail like a traffic ticket, but sometimes people will actually have to appear in court,” said Tobine.
The chief said if the call is a first alarm, and only local rescue crews are called to the scene, the individual town would bill for the call. In the case of a second alarm or higher, each town has the right to bill separately. The price tag for causing a fire can be very high. The exact amount varies, depending on what sort of equipment is used.
Tobine urged residents, especially those in wooded areas, to stay aware when fire risks are higher. “As weve seen, theres a high risk in the spring before the green-up occurs. It will be dry again usually in July and August if weve had a lack of rain. It will be dry again when the leaves fall,” explained Tobine.
The first clue for those who may not be sure is to check the foliage. Green, healthy looking grass and leaves serve as a buffer for fire and help to hinder the spread of fire. Wind is also another factor that should be taken into consideration.
Tobine recommended people worked to remove vegetation around the home, such as dead leaves and grass. “It also helps to have a lawn around the house.” “People also need to be cautious of how they dispose of their lighted materials,” said Tobine. “If youre throwing out charcoal from a fire, make sure it is dry and then soak it.”