PHOTOS: Forest Fire races up mountainside in Plymouth Vermont and is left to burn overnight
Concerns about homes at Hawk Mountain Resort
PLYMOUTH, VT - Firefighters from a dozen towns backed off of a sheer mountainside as darkness fell Monday evening and began to set up a fire watch around homes in the Hawk Mountain Resort area off Route 100 that were being threatened by a swift moving forest fire.
The blaze began when it jumped from a brush pile at Greg Wanamaker's residence on Route 100 near Pingree Flats and began to climb the steep western slopes of what is actually Soltudus Mountain, a 2,120-foot peak that is best known for the Hawk Mountain Resort development on its southern face.
Plymouth's volunteer firefighters were called out around 5 p.m. and, over the next couple of hours as the fire raced in what looked like orange rivulets up nearly 700 feet to the top of the ridge overlooking the Black River, more and more towns worth of manpower, forestry trucks and water tanker trucks were added to the effort.
In addition to the fire crews working up from Route 100 where the fire began, another large contingent came in from the opposite side of the ridge through an access off Snowy Owl Lane near the top of Hawk Mountain Resort.
Ludlow, Cavendish, Proctorsville, Shrewsbury, Clarendon, Bridgewater, Reading and West Weathersfield were among the towns contributing mutual aid resources to the forest fire.
"It's big! It's big and it's steep," noted Plymouth Assistant Chief Larry Lynds as he directed the fire suppression effort on the radio from Wanamaker's driveway with a dozen bright points visible far above him near the ridgeline as the fire fanned out and the sun began to set in earnest around 8:30 p.m.
"I think we are just going to spend the night protecting the homes around it on Hawk and Lynds Hill and then re-attack it, if we need to, in the morning," Lynds explained.
Ludlow firefighter Richard Crate, said most of what was burning was just leaves and brush but other firefighters with him pointed out that to chase the fire right up the steep slope "wasn't pleasant."
"It's hands-and-knees in some places," one said while another noted, "We were jumping from rock to rock."
Plumes of smoke from the fire were visible from President Calvin Coolidge's gravesite in the cemetery on Lynds Hill Road which winds its way up from Plymouth Notch and at one point a DHART medical helicopter that happened to be transiting over the area helped out by making a pass around the scene and describing the extent and path of the fire to the incident commanders on the ground.
Windsor County Deputy Sheriff Robert North directed emergency traffic and kept an eye on the flames high above
The brush pile where the high-climbing fire is believed to have begun
A wooden garden gnome managed to narrowly escape the path of the fire
Plymouth Assistant Fire Chief Larry Lynds (seated in the truck) was in command of the incident
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