By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — The first major brush fire of the year in Belknap County charred about 6 acres of grassland along Route 25 yesterday before it was extinguished by firefighters.
Deputy Chief Andre Kloetz said the cause of the fire is unknown but said it appeared there were two fires burning simultaneously. He said the blaze went to a first alarm because of the size of the area burning and that at one point, some outbuildings on a neighboring lot were close to the blaze.
"We don't know if it was a cigarette or if it was set intentionally," Kloetz said.
The fire was initially reported around 1 p.m. and Kloetz said the first responding lieutenant saw how close it was to an outbuilding and called for a first alarm that brought firefighters from neighboring communities to assist.
He said it took about 30 people to extinguish the blaze.
Police said Route 25 was shut down for a period of time during the earlier moments because the fire departments had to get all of their apparatus through the busy highway to reach the scene. The fire burned most of a field that is about half a mile from the Inter-Lakes Regional High School.
By abut 1:30 p.m., Meredith Police opened one lane of traffic though it was slow going through the area until the firefighting units left the scene.
Kloetz said that this time of year is usually very dry, not very humid and nothing has turned green yet. He said despite the snow and rain of the past weekend, it takes just a few days like Thursday – dry, sunny, and with a little bit of wind – to dry out grass and underbrush to the point where it burns very easily.
He said permits are required for all burning and no one is supposed to burn until after 5 p.m. Kloetz said that until the greening, fire permits are issued on a day-to-day basis and anyone considering an outside fire should contact their local fire department before burning.
Two firefighters brandishing rakes and shovels head into a six-acre charred field along Route 25 in Meredith yesterday to extinguish an out of control brush fire. No one was injured but traffic through the area was slowed for about two hours. (Gail Ober photo/Laconia Daily Sun)
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