Rhode Island firefighters battle brush fires amidst red flag warning
NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WLNE) — A dicey brush fire this afternoon in North Smithfield threatened a home.
Firefighters had their hands full battling flames against gusty winds and a lack of easy access to water.
The fire comes as a red flag warning is already in place for all of Rhode Island and portions of Massachusetts. That warning is expected to stay in place until 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
A red flag warning means warming weather and strong winds could increase the risk of a fire. That’s why officials say if you’re allowed to burn in your area, it’s important to dispose of cigarettes properly, have water nearby and never leave a fire unattended.
The blaze began near Providence Pike in North Smithfield before making its way to a family’s home.
“It had a really good head of steam on it when we arrived,” Chief David Chartier of the North Smithfield Fire Department said.
“By the time the first unit arrived and we got out hose lines in place, we had extension into the house,” he continued.
The chief also said a nearby community was battling another brush fire, so their extra help was coming from further away.
The closest water source was at least a mile up the road, the chief said.
“So we have to being the water with us, as you can see we have the equivalent of fourth alarm and tankers here just to make sure we have enough water at the scene,” Chief Chartier stated.
Frank Collenko was sitting inside his home when he saw the fire, he said he wasn’t sitting for long.
“[I] ran outside and by the time there were flames engulfed in all these large piles of leaves in the front yard which continued to spread back here in the back of my house,” Collenko said.
Collenko continued by saying he couldn’t even see the house on fire because of all the smoke. He said he did what he could to help.
“I was out here with the garden, trying to soak the leaves down a little — felt a little bit silly but I did what I could,” Collenko concluded.
Chief Chartier said when the environment is so dry, brush fires can easily start and be difficult to stop, especially in a dense area with pine needles.
“And the wind is so high, they just take off,” Chartier said.