Hudson Firefighters Face a Very Dangerous Tree Fire

June 28, 2019


by David S. Morin

Hudson firefighters dealt with an uncommon and very dangerous and complex fire to extinguish on June 22 when a bolt of lightning struck a tree deep in the woods. A lightning bolt hit the hollow center-rotting tree and, when firefighters arrived at 133 Robinson Road, the fire was burning some 50 feet through the trunk of the tree with no safe way for firefighters to extinguish the blaze.  In the forest fire service, this type of burning tree is called a “Widow Maker” due to the unstable condition, the unknown direction the tree will fall, and the ability to injure or kill.

Lieutenant Eric Lambert, who has experience dealing with this type of fire, and Firefighter Paul Olin were tasked with cutting the tree down so the fire could be extinguished.  The tree, some 70 feet tall, took considerable planning, equipment and safety measures to cut.  All other on-scene firefighters were moved back to a safe location.  Lieutenant Toby Provencal was positioned to view the entire operation as a safety officer during the cut.  Due to the limited stability of the tree, the cutting team used all safety equipment and procedures to make the cut.  The tree was put down in the exact spot picked to drop it.

Before the tree was cut, firefighters stretched about 1,000 feet of hose into the woods, as there was no access for the forestry trucks to reach the scene.  The fire department off-road vehicle was also used at the scene to shuttle equipment into the woods.  Crews worked at the scene for three hours.

A Litchfield engine assisted at the scene and Nashua and Pelham covered the Hudson stations.