Massachusetts – East Mtn. Fire Update 5/20 – Williamstown area

Massachusetts

Update

(Update 5/20/2021) A brushfire that became known as the East Mountain Fire began Friday night, May 14, 2021, on the outskirts of Williamstown, Massachusetts. The fire moved east onto lands managed by Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and across the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in the Clarksburg State Forest, burning almost a thousand acres. More than 120 firefighters worked to contain the fire. By Monday afternoon, the fire was 75 percent contained and efforts were reduced to mop-up operations on Tuesday, May 18. Although the A.T. was never officially closed, hikers were advised by firefighters to avoid the Trail, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) issued an alert through its social media channels and website. 

Charred vegetation now surrounds a two-mile section of the Trail just north of Williamstown between NOBO mile 1596 (0.3 mile south of the Sherman Brook Campsite) and Eph’s Lookout (NOBO mile 1598.6). The footpath was not impacted and there was no damage to mature trees. The only structure destroyed in the fire was a tent platform at Sherman Brook Campsite.       

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, issued by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation in 2020, overnight camping is temporarily prohibited throughout the A.T. in Massachusetts except for two locations on National Park Service (NPS) lands. Dispersed camping is not permitted on the A.T. in Massachusetts; camping is allowed only at designated campsites and shelters (when the sites are open).    

Hikers are reminded that late spring can be a time of high fire danger, when temperatures rise and the winter leaf litter can become easily combustible in bright sunlight before leaf-out is complete. For information on campfire safety, visit (www.appalachiantrail.org/campfires).

Our thanks go out to all the firefighters involved in this effort, and the Appalachian Mountain Club Western Massachusetts Chapter’s A.T. Management Committee who maintain and manage the A.T. in partnership with Mass DCR,  the National Park Service and ATC.  The A.T. Committee can be reached at [email protected] 

(Update 5/18/2021): Active operations to contain the East Mountain Fire that affected the A.T. between NOBO miles 1596.8 to 1598.6 have concluded. The Trail is open for hikers, though smoke may linger in the area over the next few days.

(5/17/2021) Alert: A forest fire has impacted the Appalachian Trail near Williamstown on lands managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The affected area is in the Clarksburg State Forest between Massachusetts Avenue (NOBO mile 1595.7) and the Massachusetts/Vermont state line (NOBO mile 1599.6). While the Trail is not closed at this time, hikers traveling through the area should use extreme caution, as Trail conditions can change quickly. We will update this post with additional information when available, as well as on social media.

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