Fire crews pour millions of gallons of water on smoldering debris fire

ASHBY, Mass. — Fire crews from 30 communities have poured millions of gallons of water on a smoldering debris fire in the rural town of Ashby.

Firefighters initially responded to the scene on Log Cabin Road around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Local fire crews quickly realized they needed help to fight the fire that has been burning under a 50-foot pile of debris on a two-acre parcel of land.

Three state task forces were activated, and 19 tankers were brought in to shuttle water to the remote location.

According to Ashby Chief Mike Bussell, 1.3 million gallons of water were used on Wednesday alone.

Firefighters returned to fighting the fire in full force when it reignited around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

“We’re dealing with a significant event, and it’s going to be over a long period of time,” said Chief Bussell. “Until it’s totally out, we won’t know an end date.”

Chief Bussell said the fire is contained and that the initial concern was that it could spread to the forest.

“We would be worried because it would be heading toward neighborhoods and houses. Fortunately, we were able to contain it to the pile of debris,” explained Chief Bussell.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Boston 25 News has learned that the property has been an area of concern in town for years.

“The town does have an active cease and desist order against the property owner for the violation of compostable materials that he was storing here,” said Christine Lindberg, Ashby’s town administrator.

Lindberg accuses the land owner of storing materials on the property that pose a fire danger.

“What is not allowed is the stumps and those are the materials that present the most fire hazard,” she added. “We’ve been working with state agencies to prevent a situation like this from happening, and it’s unfortunate that it has come to this.”

The land owner declined to go on camera when Boston 25 News approached him.

He denies any wrongdoing and said he believes the town has been on a witch hunt.

Fire crews plan to continue pouring water on the fire through the weekend to make sure it stays contained.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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