Lumber mill says hot ash may have sparked deadly wildfire
A wood-burning boiler in the yard of a wood-fired power plant in New Hampshire was the ignition source for a massive wildfire that swept through the central New England state, state regulators said Saturday.
The U.S. Forest Service said in an update on the blaze that it caused a total of $6.6 million in damage, including 10 fire engines, six firetrucks and numerous firefighting aircraft and aerial platforms.
Firefighters also extinguished the flames that threatened homes on Mount Washington, about 25 miles northeast of Keene.
Gov. Maggie Hassan tweeted that she had met with firefighters and was providing support to them. She did not have an update Saturday on recovery efforts.
“This is a devastating fire that will impact all of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Deputy Fire Chief Dan O’Connell. “It will cost a fortune to repair and rebuild.” In a news release, the U.S. Forest Service offered its perspective on the fire.
“Our inspectors are on the ground assessing the damage from this fire and working to determine the cause,” Mark Gollust, Forest Service fire safety coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service, said in the release. “While we’re assessing the damage, it is too early to know all the details of the fire.”
New Hampshire authorities did not say where the fire started or estimate the total loss of the structure.
“It’s an incredible amount of smoke,” said Gollust, who is based in Manchester.
“The flames spread very quickly,” he added. “That means that a lot of equipment needed to fight the fire has been lost.”
The cause was not immediately clear.
A spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service could not be reached after early attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
The New Hampshire Emergency Management Agency also did not know what caused the fire but it sent a tweet announcing that a large swath of the state was under a state of emergency.
“We are in an emergency management state of alert due to the #NewHampshireWildfire. We will update as we have more information,” the tweet read.
Mount Washington is a town of about 5,600