RUMFORD – Two Rumford men were charged with starting a fire April 19 atop Barker Mountain off the Eaton Hill Road, Maine Forest Ranger Kendall Knowles said.

Following an investigation, Knowles summoned Scott LaPlante, 18, and Garrett Cowett, 20, for having a campfire without permission of the landowner.

“I interviewed both of them and they admitted they had a campfire,” Knowles said last week. “They went up there for a day hike and made a campfire at lunch, but they didn’t extinguish it properly.”

Luckily, the fire located just below the peak and a former cable television reception tower, didn’t have enough ground fuel or wind to accelerate into nearby hardwoods where it would have caused a major flare-up, Knowles added.

Instead it spread slowly, burning moss and lichens on two-tenths of an acre.

After being reported at 1:45 p.m., Knowles and about 50 firefighters from Rumford, Mexico, Andover, Peru and Dixfield converged on the area, setting up a staging site and command center.

However, due to the remote location and steep, rugged terrain behind the Baker Farm, it took three teams of firefighters 45 minutes to hike in and locate the fire.

To build campfires in organized towns, landowner permission is needed, as is a permit, which can be issued by the town forest fire warden, who is usually the fire chief.

In unorganized towns, campfire permits are required for some remote campsites. Campfire permits, which are free, are site specific and valid for a short period of time, according to the Maine Forest Service.

Normally, Knowles works out of Farmington covering the area between Dead River Township and Jay. But he has been filling in for local Ranger Jay Bernard who is away on vacation.


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