"Such is Oak" photo by Lori Welles

Flat Rock Fire Update 10/21/16

Due to the very warm temperatures and windier than expected conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Flat Rock Fire flared up on Wednesday/Thursday.  When hot spots flared up due to the heat and wind, they heated the newly fallen leaves from underneath, igniting them, which then allowed the fire to carry outside of the existing burn perimeter across to the extensive carpet of newly fallen leaves.

What resulted was a new fire perimeter totaling 159 acres.  As the fire was running in all directions Thursday afternoon, immediate attention was given to priority areas, the south and the west.  These areas were chosen because of the houses located south along Flat Rocks Road, and because of a nearby existing woods road/trail to the west that could serve as a fire break.  DEEP personnel were able to establish a good control line to the west of the fire on Thursday, utilizing the existing trail and back burning to connect to the advancing fireline.  This practice provides a safer and easier method to defend a fireline edge from where we want to fight the fire, better protecting firefighters.  Additional time was spent today enforcing the western edge.

It had been decided since the inception of this fire that if the fire decided to make a run to the south, the existing Spruce Brook stream bed would be used as a natural fire break to control the spread of the fire.  Similar to the woods road, enhancing this existing feature provides a means to defend the fire from a point that we choose, that provides a safer and easier location to work.  This is especially important in regards to the dense mountain laurel that exists in this area.  Significant time and energy was put into enhancing the southern line today.

On the east, the fire has reached the Shepaug River, a great natural barrier.  To the north, the fire has spread, but not at the same rate as the other directions.  This is due to prevailing winds pushing the fire back into itself, as well as the different forest and soil types found there.  I would expect the fire to continue to creep along and smolder in the hemlock.  Both areas will continue to be monitored for changes.

Overall, there was over 50 personnel on scene today working to monitor and control spread of the Flat Rock Fire. It was a great example of cooperative work by the local Fire Departments and DEEP.  Thanks to all for the cooperation and hard work.

DEEP staff will be back again on Saturday, to monitor the fire for increased activity, and to enforce previous work done on the west and south/southeast flanks of the fireline.

Close attention will be paid to the higher winds over the next several days; both from a firefighter safety aspect, as well as to monitor whether the winds contribute to the fire becoming more active again.  The precipitation received last night, through today, and into tomorrow will improve fire conditions for the next several days.

I will provide more information as it becomes available.  



Helene Hochholzer
Forest Protection Supervisor
Division of Forestry
Bureau of Natural Resources
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127
P: 860.424-3632|F: 860.424-4070 |E: helene.hochholzer@ct.gov

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Cornwall, in Litchfield County, is located on the Housatonic River in northwestern Connecticut and contains a portion of Mohawk State Forest. The town was incorporated in May of 1740 which means that the town was celebrating the 275th anniversary in 2015.  The early economy was based on farming, but iron furnaces, including two blast furnaces, gained importance in the nineteenth century, along with the supporting charcoal making industries. Famous as the site of the Cornwall’s Foreign Mission School and the Cream Hill Agricultural School, Cornwall has also been called the “Home of the Covered Bridge,” in reference to the 1864 West Cornwall Covered Bridge that is still in service today. One of Connecticut’s smallest towns, Cornwall has remained a rural community. (From the  ConnecticutHistory.org website )
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