In the early hours of the morning today after a boisterous thunderstorm last night, the Topsfield Fire Department was dispatched at 5:34 AM to the entrance of the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary on Perkins Row for a reported brush fire. Although brush fires can happen any time, it is not typical to receive calls for one after an overnight deluge, especially before the sun has even come up to dry things out. Crews arrived to find a tree near the front gate of the Audubon blown apart by an apparent lightning strike, with the middle of the tree involved in fire. Typically, when arriving to find a 3 story wood frame structure with heavy fire showing at this time of the morning, mutual aid would be requested, and crews would initiate aggressive fire attack with simultaneous searches for victims trapped. Since any squirrels and woodpeckers had likely vacated the premises when the strike occurred, our members went straight to fire suppression mode. On a more serious note, the fire was easily contained to the tree with no risk of spread, but complete extinguishment was slightly hampered by the tree being unstable after the lightning strike blew it apart. Firefighters carefully had to work on a ground ladder to hose down the inside of the tree, not typically a tool used in the forest fire fighting branch of our industry. After the tree was sufficiently extinguished, crews went back in service with no injuries to wildlife or firefighters.
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