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Helicopters mount aerial attack on stubborn forest fire meteorite may have sparked

Union Leader Correspondent

October 04. 2017 10:11PM
Two helicopters dumped water on a fire on Dilly Cliff in North Woodstock on Wednesday. The fire was first reported on Monday night. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

NORTH WOODSTOCK — Kinsman Notch was filled Wednesday with the roar of helicopters as two aircraft, including a Black Hawk from the New Hampshire National Guard, dumped water on the stubborn fire that has burned on Dilly Cliff, opposite the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, since Tuesday.

In addition to the helicopters, some 50 firefighters from local, state and federal agencies battled the blaze, which was reported at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Woodstock Fire Chief John MacKay said the fire is likely to burn into today before it is contained.

As of Wednesday morning, the fire had consumed more than 25 acres and overnight it had spread into the adjacent White Mountain National Forest, but it has not caused any injuries or threatened any structures.

The fire’s cause and origins remains unknown, although MacKay, the incident commander, noted that a Bath resident driving at 7 p.m. Monday on Route 112 in the area of Lost River Gorge reported that he saw a meteor or a comet come down from the sky.

“The guy was pretty convinced that he saw something,” said MacKay, who in his 35 years with the Woodstock Fire Department is fighting his first and what he hopes is his last fire in Lost River Gorge.

With slopes of 60 degrees or more, the location is physically challenging for firefighters, said MacKay, although he acknowledged that the fire scene’s proximity to Beaver Pond, where the helicopters scooped up water, has been convenient.

“Just the elevation, the steepness and rocks” is a huge challenge for firefighters who, MacKay said, have to go up 700 feet to the fire from a staging area at the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves.

The trek represents “a good, steep, one half to three-quarters of a mile,” said MacKay.

Lincoln Fire Chief Ron Beard, who is the operational commander, said the Black Hawk joining the smaller helicopter from JBI Helicopter Services can carry up to 600 gallons of water.

Compared to Tuesday, Beard said fighting the fire was easier on Wednesday because there was not as much drifting smoke, which allowed for more accurate drops on specific hotspots.

Fires Outdoors North Woodstock

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