REMEMBERING MAYOR THOMAS MENINO: Complete Coverage

Local

Areas Ravaged By Tornado More Susceptible To Brush Fires

By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV
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Debris from the June 1, 2011 tornado that hit Massachusetts.

Debris from the June 1, 2011 tornado that hit Massachusetts.

WBZ-TV's Christina Hager Christina Hager
Award-winning reporter Christina Hager works as a general assignmen...
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BRIMFIELD (CBS) – About 800 acres of fire fuel: that’s what the Massachusetts chief fire warden calls the Brimfield State Forest these days, since last month’s tornado filled it with debris.

“Since the tornado, the leaf litter that we have is very dried out. It’s responded to the weather that we’ve had, the lack of rain,” says Chief Dave Celino.

Six weeks after the storm, the downed trees, branches, and leaves have died and turned brown, making them flammable targets for brush fires. To make matters worse, the tornado destroyed countless tree tops, allowing more sunlight in, and drying the debris even more.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports.

“I definitely think it’s on everybody’s mind here,” says Julie Strzemtkle, who’s home is surrounded by the tornado-ravaged forest. “There’s firewood everywhere.”

Since debris still blocks the access roads in the forest, fire officials are prepared to use different equipment, such as helicopters. They’re also checking the ground cover every day.

“As we go a number of days with high temperatures and no rain, this layer will start to dry out,” says Chief Celino.

He’s also urging people not to light campfires or put out cigarettes near tornado debris.

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