By Hiroko Sato


GROTON -- Local firefighters are keeping a close eye on smoldering spots within the Mass. Audubon Society's Rocky Hill Wildlife Sanctuary off Route 119, the remains of a fire that broke out there Friday.

The fire is now in large part contained, according to Selectman Peter Cunningham. The fire, which is believed to have originated at a camp site in the forest, burned about 10 acres over the weekend. No one has been injured in the fire.

The Rocky Hill Wildlife Sanctuary extends from the area behind the Shaw's supermarket plaza by the intersection of Route 119 and Sandy Pond Road. Fire departments from many surrounding towns provided mutual aid for the fire over the weekend. As the fire was burning in such remote spots far from water sources, and because the fire posed no threat to local homes, the Groton Fire Department was reassessing how much resource to allocate to the fire, Cunningham has said on Monday.

Cunningham said Tuesday that the fire was only smoldering underground in some spots. He said firefighters believe campers didn't extinguish the fire they had used well enough before leaving an island in a beaver pond. The strong wind likely helped the fire spread to the rest of the forest, Cunningham said. Now that the wind has died down, Cunningham said he is hopeful that the fire won't become rekindled.

"The good news is that it's not an active fire," anymore, Cunningham said.


The local Fire Department will monitor the area over the next few days.

Cunningham thanked local firefighters as well as those from many surrounding towns who showed up for mutual aid over the weekend.

Smoke rising from the forest were visible from Route 119 over the weekend, Cunningham said. Rocky Hill Wildlife Sanctuary has been hit by a fire more than once over the past few years. The two fires that broke out one week apart from each other in July 2010 scorched nearly 60 acres of the 380-acre sanctuary. The first of those two fires was also believed to have started from a camp site. Cunningham said the town plans to talk to Mass. Audubon Society about developing strategies to better monitor and manage activities in the forest.