700+ acre Exeter brush fire under control, possibly began in a campsite

EXETER, R.I. (WLNE) — The brush fire tearing through a wooded area in Exeter is now contained and the evacuation order has been lifted, according to Rhode Island Emergency Management.

Brooke Lawrence of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said crews are soaking the affected area and will be until about 5 p.m. Saturday.

Officials said residents shouldn’t panic if smoke is visible but to report any hot spots in case of a lack of rain.

Crews will continue to monitor the area in the coming days as cleanup is expected to begin next week.

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee said Friday afternoon, the fire may have spread to over 700 acres, which would make it the largest fire in the state’s history.

McKee said the fire was expected to be three-to-four times the size of the West Greenwich brush fire that kept firefighters busy Wednesday and Thursday.

A temporary shelter was opened at the Exeter Public Library for those who had to evacuate.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and state fire marshal identified a campsite as a possible starting point for the massive wildfire.

In a release, the department said investigators were informed by firefighters of an area of interest and responded to the Queen River Nature Preserve, which showed evidence of a campsite. 

Several items were recovered from the area and officials said the investigation remains ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this fire or the area of the camp site should contact the state fire marshall tip line at (401) 383-7723.

Categories: News, Rhode Island