An inch of rain that soaked the summit of Mount Abraham on Wednesday into Thursday had forest rangers cautiously optimistic that a fire that has burned more than 40 acres of land since June 22 finally might be over.

“We enjoyed approximately an inch of rain in the last 24 hours,” said Ranger Shane Nichols, of the Maine Forest Service, crew chief and incident commander at the scene. “They’re going up doing what is called cold trailing. They’re going to be working the edge, going extremely slow looking for any heat at all.”

Crews have been working to put out the fire on the mountain for the past nine days since a bolt of lightning ignited the fire, burning tall cedar trees and low mountain tundra. Tough terrain and a lack of nearby water, coupled with wind and dry conditions, made it difficult to fight the fire near the summit of the 4,050-foot mountain, more commonly known as Mount Abram, through the weekend and into this week.

Nichols said the mountain fire west of Kingfield, in Franklin County, was fought this week by a fire crew of 18, including three rangers, that has doubled in size since Sunday. One helicopter was in use Tuesday.

Nichols said about 11 a.m. Thursday that his crew had just made it to the top of the mountain and were sizing up the situation for a possible change of mission from active fire fight to one of just patrolling former hot spots.

“They are spreading themselves out, making their way toward the edges, and they’ll start patrol today,” he said. “We haven’t made the determination if it is out or not. At some point in time late this afternoon or early evening we’ll be making a decision on scaling back.”

He said the firefighters on Mount Abram are specially trained crews that are called up when the federal government needs reinforcements fighting Western fires. One of the squads is made up of local firefighters, he said. There are regional teams from southern, central and northern regions of the state, which also are sent out West when needed.

The National Weather Service called for sunny and warm conditions Friday in the Kingfield area, with showers and thunderstorms likely Friday night.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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