Crews work to create fire line to contain Middletown fires
MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) - State fire control officers are still monitoring a brush fire that has been burning for over 24 hours in Middletown.
It’s estimated that over 200 acres of land have been burned.
The fires continued to tear through acres of land off of Aircraft, River and Freeman roads on Wednesday.
Crews have contained a lot of it, but the flames could pick up randomly because of the weather.
Dozens of trees are still burning.
No structures have bene touched, but the fire is very close to Pete’s property.
“Its very scary, very worried about the property damage, my house, my son’s house, our equipment. I hope they can control it,” said Pete Bogue, of Middletown.
Officials say a fire this big doesn’t happen often.
“I am kind of worried about my town. And the surrounding woods. I like hiking and mountain biking so I’m a little worried about the woods here,” said Evan Mainetti, Middletown resident.
The fire started Tuesday after a tree fell on power lines.
“We had some phase to ground arching which is carbon in the smoke column creating a phase to ground for the transmission power lines. Firefighters were hearing loud explosions. Luckily no one was in that area they would have been electrocuted,” said DEEP Fire Control Officer Rich Schenk.
DEEP continues to monitor the fires.
The first has been growing since Tuesday afternoon and led to very smoky conditions ever since.
Firefighters believe it started after a tree fell on power lines on River Road.
Sparks ignited a nearby bush.
The second one started around 1 a.m. on Wednesday.
Channel 3 asked firefighters why they believed that one was not natural. They said there was no way an ember from the first fire could have traveled to the location of the second.
The cause is still under investigation.
Then, before 2 a.m. on Wednesday, a third fire was reported on Freeman Road. In that case, a fire started in a basement of a home.
“The smoke was initially assumed to be the result of the brush fires, but was actually caused by a separate fire that started in the basement of the home in question,” said Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim.
That fire became fully-involved with four people trapped inside.
“Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of the responding firefighters, all four occupants were rescued without injuries,” Florsheim said.
About 100 firefighters from local fire departments responded to it, through which about hundreds of acres burned as of Wednesday morning.
Wind is exactly what the firefighters said has been the biggest factor with the situation because it has been so strong that it scattered and spread the flames, at times blowing the flames to heights of 30 to 40 feet. The extremely dry conditions also helped fuel them.
“Inside the fire line is nothing but dead oak trees and those dead oak trees are a result of the gypsy moth damage, so very dangerous conditions for fire fighters,” said DEEP Fire Control Officer Rich Schenk.
For people who live in the area, they said they can’t help but look out their windows and wonder what’s next.
“I’m looking out my window, and I could see every once in a while the sky would light up, I’m planning ‘what am I going to do? What am I taking?’” said Michael Farina of Middletown. “So, I went through this whole litany about grabbing the dog, getting the deeds, taking the insurance policies, dog food, pictures, etc.”
No structures were impacted by the brush fires, but officials said they still took every precaution.
“We’re bringing units out of the woods and standing by the residents’ houses and letting it burn to us because it’s too dangerous into the woods, as thick as it is,” Ron Swan, Middlesex County fire coordinator. “And with the high-tension wires not knowing their condition, [the] chief’s being smart and just keeping everybody away.”
“As soon as that fire front goes back towards the main fire, the two fires meet, that goes out, they call it a burnout operation, we’re burning out fuel ahead of the main fire and as soon as that cools we put resources, hand crews with a hose, they’re just mopping up any of those hot spots,” said Schenk.
No one was hurt and firefighters said they have been working hard to keep it that way.
Channel 3 was told that firefighters worked on creating a fire line to contain the flames.
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