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Communities Converge to Fight Sleeping Giant Fire Saturday

A massive brush fire took five hours to put out Saturday and required the help of three other community's fire departments.

It was a perfect fall day and there were many taking advantage of the crisp weather with a trip to Sleeping Giant State Park Saturday.

But their excursions were cut short when at about 2 p.m. a brush fire broke out in the "chin" area of the mountain that would spread to engulf about five acres and take crews from Hamden, Cheshire, Wallingford and North Haven to eventually extinguish it.

Initially it was reported as a brush fire, but it soon became much larger and it tripled in size quickly, spreading to about five acres, according to fire officials. Hamden firefighters and volunteer companies responded, but it was soon apparent that more manpower would be needed and the call went out to area departments.

Cheshire firefighters brought with them ATVS that were needed to access the area of the fire. Wallingford and North Haven also sent crews to the scene, with the staging area set up at the park's main entrance across from Quinnipiac University.

Winds up to 20 miles per hour hampered the firefighter's efforts. Once the fire in one area was put out, it would pop back up due to the high winds, causing hot spots throughout the area, fire officials said.

Another challenge in fighting the fire was getting water to the area. Tanks of water were trucked up the mountain as firetrucks were unable to get to the chin area of the Giant's "head," which is very steep. 

It also was physically exhausting for the firefighters themselves who spent hours at the scene. It was about 7 p.m. before crews started leaving the scene. 

Hamden CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) assisted the more than 50 firefighters worked the very dry conditions with a 40 mph sustained wind at the top of the mountain, according to CERT Director Bob Freeman.

"The Hamden CERT personnel assisted with firefighter rehab, along with portable lighting during the five-hour operation," he said. "Ten CERT Personnel were on scene and five were on stand-by if needed for another operational period."


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