Woodland Acres/Briarwood Fire Updates

This post will feature all updates related to the Woodland Acres/Briarwood Fire


8/27/22 5PM:

The fire site remains quiet at this time.  The Forest Fire Dept has been patrolling the area multiple times each day checking for hotspots and any other issues.  The containment area remains intact and the perimeter remains wet and cold.  There are some hotspots in the center of the containment area but no flare-ups have resulted at this time; they will continue to be monitored. The rain has been helpful but more is needed to penetrate deeper to fully extinguish.

We will transition to once weekly updates.  The next update will be this coming Wednesday, barring unforeseen circumstances.


8/23/22 5PM:

The fire site remains quiet at this time.  The Forest Fire Dept has been patrolling the area multiple times each day checking for hotspots.  They addressed 2 flare-ups on Sunday in the morning and evening and have not had another to date.  The containment area remains intact and the perimeter remains wet and cold.  The rain has been helpful with wetting the fuel sources on the ground but more rain is needed to penetrate deeper to fully extinguish.

The next update will be at the end of the week (Friday/Saturday), barring unforeseen circumstances.


8/19/22 7PM:

The National Guard has completed their deployment and is returning to their base on Cape Cod.  Over the course of two days, they were able to work in tandem with DCR Forestry and the Rockport Forest Fire and Fire Departments to address various flare-ups and greatly increase the “cold zone” within the containment area.  Rockport’s Forest Fire Warden and the state DCR Forestry Chief have completed a full survey of the perimeter of the containment zone and have determined that the fire is at 100% containment within the containment zone.  It is important to note that this DOES NOT mean that the fire is out.  There will continue to be flare-ups and smoldering/smoke conditions since fuel remains throughout the containment area.  It DOES mean that there is a level of “cold zone” that is sufficient to act as a buffer around the perimeter of the containment zone and minimize risk. 

Rockport Forest Fire will transition from active fire operations to ongoing patrol operations this weekend.  They will conduct multiple patrols each day to review the containment zone as well as monitor for flare-ups throughout. They will also work with the DPW in the upcoming week to continue work that was started to widen the access roads and remove overhanging trees to lessen the chance for any crossover if a flare-up occurs along the perimeter.

The Town sends its sincere thanks to the National Guard and MEMA for their assistance as well as the ongoing support from DCR Forestry.  We also continue to extend our thanks to our volunteers in the Forest Fire and Fire Departments who have been operating at this location on a daily basis.  Specific recognition to Forest Fire Warden Mike Frontierro who has been the incident commander since the beginning of this fire.  Even with the National Guard and DCR present, this has remained a local jurisdiction matter under Warden Frontierro.

The next update will be at the beginning of next week (Monday/Tuesday), barring unforeseen circumstances.


8/19/22 10:15AM:

The National Guard is on site for a second day.  They continue to address hotspots and increase the “cold area” along the containment line.  Smoke conditions are likely.

The fire remains in the containment area.  There was an area shown on various news outlets last night that had a flare-up and “jumped” back into an area that was previously considered “cold.”  AT NO TIME HAS IT LEFT THE DESIGNATED CONTAINMENT AREA.  The National Guard, MEMA, DCR Forestry, and Rockport Forest Fire remain on site and Rockport Forest Fire Warden has validated that as of 10AM today, it has not left the containment area.  If that were to happen, notice would be provided to the Town and in-person to immediate abutters. 

There remains fresh fuel (leaves, pine needles, upper portions of trees, etc.) within the containment area so the potential for additional flare-ups within the containment area remains possible.


8/17/22 5PM:

As indicated in the 8/15 update, the National Guard will have a contingent on site Thursday  8/18 and Friday 8/19 to provide proactive assistance in locating and putting out hot spots within the containment area.  Their activity will cause increased smoke conditions for the duration of their time and into each evening.  They will start work at approx. 7AM each day and work for approx. 12-14 hours.  They are specifically trained for this type of work and will be under the oversight of the Rockport Forest Fire Warden and State Forestry experts.


8/16/22 10:45AM

DPW Crews will be starting proactive work today on some trenching and to increase access to the containment area in Woodland Acres (removing stumps that are damaging fire vehicles, addressing tree limbs that are overhanging the fire breaks/path that could allow a flare up to spread). Their work is not likely to cause increased smoke conditions but smoke conditions remain possible.


Woodland Acres/Briarwood Forest Fire Update – 8/15/22 7PM

Here is the latest update relating to the brush fire in Woodland Acres/Briarwood:

-The Town will do twice-weekly updates via its official social media accounts and the CodeRED system (email and text only).  It will also be posted on the Town webpage, rockportma.gov, under the news section on the homepage.  The list of official social media accounts is located on the homepage under the social media tab.  This will be supplemented by information that continues to be shared with the Gloucester Times on a regular basis.

-The brush fire continues to smolder above and below ground within the containment area established by the Forest Fire Department and MA State Forestry.  A soaking rain is necessary to put this fire out. Again, the fire remains within the containment area at this time.  Both aforementioned departments continue to monitor the area multiple times every day, seven days per week.

-The Department of Public Works will be assisting with creating further trenching and material removal around the perimeter as an additional safety measure later this week.  The Forest Fire Warden and State Forestry will also be facilitating a team from the National Guard to assist with hand trenching hot spots over the next week within the containment area.  The location is not currently recommended by State Forestry for a water drop.  Both of these activities will result in increased smoke for a time after the work.  We will notify the community once these are scheduled with as much notice as possible.

-Until the fire is out, there will continue to be smoke in the area.  Its location and concentration will vary depending on the wind speed and direction. 

-The Forest Fire Department and State Forestry will be reaching out to immediate abutters to review ways to make their properties as safe as possible.  There are currently no homes at risk; this is a proactive risk management step to provide guidance to abutting homeowners.  Again, these homeowners will receive direct contact.

-The Town would like to thank the dedicated members of the Forest Fire, Fire, Ambulance, and Police departments.  They have been managing this fire on a daily basis, including multiple call outs each day to address flare-ups and monitor the area.  Their service is deeply appreciated by the community.  Also many thanks to the State Forestry department for their continued partnership and expertise; they continue to be on-site daily along with Rockport responders.

The next update will take place at the end of the week, barring unforeseen circumstances.