NEW SHARON — A pile of ashes from a wood-burning stove started a grass fire that charred 2 acres before firefighters extinguished the flames Sunday afternoon, a forest ranger said.

Hale Bulmer dumped the ashes behind his 622 Mercer Road home some time before the weekend, and by Sunday the smoldering embers had set a nearby field ablaze, said Forest Ranger Mark Rousseau.

Bulmer reported the fire, and emergency responders from two area fire departments responded, using fire hoses and shovels to stop the grass fire within about an hour of the emergency 911 call at 2:09 p.m., Rousseau said.

Because wildfires can spread so quickly, forest rangers frequently issue warnings about fire prevention measures during grass fire season, Rousseau said. He added that a lot of wildfires are started each spring by people who don’t dispose of ashes from wood-burning stoves properly.

“We try to stress to people that they need to be very careful when dumping ashes and mix in some water and make sure it’s cold to the touch before leaving the pile unattended,” he said.

Sunday morning, the region had been declared at a moderate risk for wildfires, but by the afternoon conditions had changed because of growing wind, Rousseau said.

He noted conditions can change by the hour, making it dangerous even for people who have been issued a fire permit for burning debris.

On the way back to their station from the fire in New Sharon, for instance, Farmington Fire Department crews got another call about a grass fire, this time on Owen Mann Road, Rousseau said.

That grass fire started when a sanctioned debris burn got out of control because of high wind, spreading flames to a nearby field, he said. About one-quarter of an acre burned before firefighters could extinguish the fire.

David F. Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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