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Derry, Auburn, Sandown, Epping and Chester responded to a call Monday afternoon for a brush fire in Chester that started around 3:30 p.m.

CHESTER | An abandoned boat set ablaze may be to blame for a brush fire that charred nearly 10 acres in a remote part of town yesterday afternoon.

As about 60 firefighters from eight or nine towns battled the blaze for more than four hours, the blackened remains of a small fiberglass boat lay smoking on the side of a dirt path where fire Chief Richard Antoine said the fire probably began.

"We believe the boat to be the origin of the fire," Antoine said. "You can tell the way the wind is blowing."

He said it is likely someone dumped the vessel in the woods and set it on fire. The fire smoldered behind the burned remains of the boat, spreading in the direction the wind was blowing.

The fire burned brush near power lines and spread into nearby woods, scorching the rocky terrain about a mile off Harantis Lake Road.

The first report of the fire came from the other side of Chester about 3:30 p.m. when someone called the fire station to report the smell of smoke, Antoine said. A few minutes later, the Derry Fire Department received a similar call and firefighters were able to track the smoke to the power lines.

"It's a very remote location," Antoine said as firefighters maneuvered forestry vehicles along the narrow trail. "There's really no easy way out here."

In fact, firefighters had to trim brush and cut through an overgrown path just to reach the fire. Forestry trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles were used to transport water and supplies.

Antoine said the rough terrain made the fire more difficult to fight.

Tankers filled up at a nearby pond on Route 102 and stopped about half a mile down Harantis Lake Road, where the dirt path to the power lines begins. Water was emptied into portable plastic pools, then transported to the top of the steep, rocky path by forestry vehicles.

The smoke could be smelled two miles down the road at the Chester fire station.

Firefighters from numerous towns, including Auburn, Derry, Sandown, Raymond and Fremont, helped attack the brush fire. No one was injured.

Dry weather and a breeze helped the fire spread, and it continued to burn underground, forcing firefighters to dig to reach the flames.

This month has seen average rainfall, but the past week has been very dry, said National Weather Service meteorologist James Brown.

Londonderry fire Capt. Darren O'Brien said yesterday presented a Class 3 fire danger, meaning the potential for brush fires was very high. The highest level is Class 5. Local fire departments were not issuing burn permits yesterday.

"We're getting to that season now," O'Brien said. "With leaves and vegetation starting to dry out, it can travel pretty well."

Londonderry firefighters battled a smaller brush fire, about 3 acres, on Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters fought the blaze into last night, getting the fire under control.

"It's one of the biggest we've seen," Antoine said.

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