RUMFORD — Three grass and brush fires started within a couple of hours of each other in Rumford and Canton on Wednesday amid dry conditions and blustery winds.
The first began about 1:30 p.m. on Swain Road in Rumford. Property owner Robert LaPointe was moving brush when a spark from a cigar ignited the material. The blaze moved through the brush and onto a 30-foot diameter section of grass. A Rumford Fire Department tanker, engine and eight firefighters responded. The flames was quelled within a half-hour, Deputy Chief Richard Coulombe said.
The department was called out again to 460 Ellis River Road at 3:15 p.m. when a resident was burning in an outside barrel that tipped over. The flames spread through the grass and into a section of woods, burning about an acre, Coulombe said.
He said because the wind was blowing toward the house, the Andover Fire Department then the Mexico Fire Department were called. Nearly 20 firefighters and several tankers and engines fought or kept watch of the fire for about 90 minutes.
Shortly after 2 p.m., the Canton and Peru fire departments were called to a grass fire at the home of James Gallant on Pleasant Street in Canton. He had been burning leaves at the rear of his home when the flames spread onto the grass, then made their way to the nearby woods. About a quarter-acre was burned. A half-dozen firefighters and several trucks responded to the incident.
Maine Forest Ranger Marc Rousseau was busy traveling between Rumford and Canton and back to Rumford again investigating the brush and grass fires.
Coulombe said his department did not issue any fire permits on Wednesday, and he doubts whether any will be issued for the next few days because of dry conditions that can be aggravated by winds.
“This was a Class 3 day – high fire danger. People should use common sense if they plan to burn. Anything larger than a campfire needs a permit,” he said. “It only takes a spark from a barrel and it doesn’t take long to take off.”