USA: WOODSTOCK, New Hampshire (CBS) — Investigators and fire officials in New Hampshire are looking into the possibility that a meteor may have started a brush fire that has currently burned through about 25 acres in the White Mountains.
Crews were working to contain the fire in the Lost River Gorge area Wednesday, and said that it was still spreading. A driver first called it in around 6:20 a.m. Tuesday.
Though the cause is still under investigation, Woodstock Fire Chief John Mackay told WBZ-TV a man walking through the area Wednesday told them he saw something–possibly a meteor–hit the side of the mountain while he was driving by the night before.
“He swears that something come out of the sky and hit the side of the mountain where the fire is,” Chief Mackay said. “We can’t confirm it or deny it, we just took his word. We don’t know if that is the cause.”
Mackay said it had been about 12 or 15 years since the last mountain forest fire in the area, and fighting fires of this type were very difficult.
“The terrain is unbelievable, and we’re in a lot of pine and spruce that ignites quickly, and goes all the way up the tree,” he said. “It’s just tough going with the rocky material and rockslides, trees coming down. The elevation is just hard on the guys.”
He said two helicopters had joined in the fight, as well as a National Guard aircraft that was capable of dumping 600 gallons of water.
The fires closed nearby Lost River Gorge on Tuesday, but they were open again Wednesday morning.
“It’s close to Lost River Gorge, but we have lines stretched out and pumps just in case it wants to come this way, but right now it’s no big threat to that building,” Mackay said.
The nature preserve posted on their Facebook page to thank local firefighters.
Chief Mackay said he’s not even sure they could actually determine if a meteor was the cause.
“I don’t know if I would know the difference or not, I don’t know what a meteor looks like, I’ve never seen one,” he said. “Maybe if we found a point of impact we could, but right now we cannot say that it was a meteor.”
Possible meteor strike aside, the chief expects the fire to be contained by Thursday. Australia: Colin Abbott’s bushfire survival plan is simple.
“You get the hell out of the place,” he said about his home of 40 years.
But he said there was a plan B for if flames arrived at his Jarrahdale bush property in the Perth Hills before he and his wife had the chance to evacuate.
On first glance, it might not look like much.
But that plan B is a home-made bushfire bunker made out of steel-reinforced concrete pipes, sealed with bricks at one end and dug into a trench beside his home.
Mr Abbott said he built the shelter several years ago to give his family piece of mind.
At a total cost of $1,500, he said it was a small price to pay in order to continue living among the tranquil bushland he loves.
The politics of planning
In most West Australian local government areas, bushfire shelters on private property require a building permit and must comply with the national building code.
Anyone considering installing one has been urged to do their homework.
“Bunkers are not the panacea,” Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) bushfire risk management director Murray Carter said.
Unlike in Victoria, WA does not have statewide safety standards for private bushfire bunkers, and records are not kept on how many have been built here.
There are also no plans for WA to follow the Victorian model of building community fire refuges in high risk areas.
Instead, authorities are focusing on encouraging all residents in bushfire prone areas to prepare a detailed fire plan.
The Perth hills and the north-eastern urban fringe around Ellenbrook have been identified as the areas most at risk from bushfire this summer.
But if the flames do reach Jarrahdale, Mr Abbott is confident his plan B will help keep his family safe.