Firefighters battle brush fires in Hopkinton, Holyoke, Monson, Medford, Belchertown
Firefighters across Massachusetts worked Sunday to extinguish several brush fires in the central and western part of the state, with a 15-acre blaze burning in Hopkinton, a 15-acre fire on Holyoke, and a 5-acre spread in Monson, according to local fire departments.
Fire officials said brush fires in Massachusetts are common in the springtime due to rising temperatures and wind speeds, coupled with a lack of precipitation.
The flames in Hopkinton began around noon Sunday near Clinton Street and spread wildly by 4 p.m. across what officials believed to be 40 acres, according to the Hopkinton Fire Department. However, State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said a GPS tracking of the fire found it to be spread across 15 acres.
Local fire officials had no other information on the Hopkinton fire’s cause, or if anyone was injured or in harm’s way.
Meanwhile, a blaze at the Mount Tom State Reservation in Holyoke also began around noon Sunday, spanning 15 acres by Sunday evening.
Traffic on Interstate 91 southbound was funnelled down to one lane as firefighters rushed to bring to the scene water, as there are few fire hydrants in the area, said Holyoke Fire Lietuenant Tom Paquin.
“We’ve been shuttling water in from different surrounding towns,” Paquin said.
The flames in Holyoke were fueled by rotting drywood left behind by tornadoes and tropical storms in the past few years, Paquin said, and although the town has seen a few brush fires this season, today’s was the biggest one Holyoke has seen so far this year, he said.
The Monson fire began in the south part of town around 2 p.m. Sunday, and firefighters were still working to contain the 5-acre blaze by around 5 p.m. Sunday, according to the fire department there.
Coan said brush fires were also reported Sunday in Belchertown, and in the state-owned Middlesex Fells Reservation in Medford.
Representatives from the National Weather Service said the dry, warm weather probably exacerbated the brush fire, but noted that relatively low wind speeds prevented the flames from spreading even more.
“If the winds were blowing at 30 miles per hour, that would be more of a concern,” said Rebecca Gould, a meteorologist with the organization. Today’s wind speeds in the greater Boston area hovered just below 10 miles per hour, according to the service’s website.
Coan told the Globe in early April that brush fires in Massachusetts are most common during April, as ground-level plant-life that died over the winter can easily catch fire as temperatures and wind speeds rise. An average of 1,400 brush fires have been reported in Massachusetts during each of the past five Aprils, Coan previously said.