ROME – Firefighters doused flames Monday on an uninhabited island on Long Pond after launching boats to access the site.

About 15 firefighters from Rome, Mount Vernon and Belgrade fought the fire, which burned about an acre of two-acre Blueberry Island, according to Rome Fire Chief Gary Foss.

No one lives on the privately owned island, which has a lot of small trees, bushes and rocks, he said.

The island’s owners reported they discovered several men on the island Sunday who had a campfire, and the owners asked them to extinguish the fire and leave, Foss said.

Foss said the men apparently put out the fire, but a hot ember likely reignited. He said he did not know the identity of the men.

The fire was reported about 7:30 a.m. by a caller at Long Lake Cottages across the lake, Foss said. The island’s owners had tried to put out the fire themselves after it reignited but were unsuccessful, he said.

Belgrade and Mount Vernon fire departments launched boats from the Castle Island boat landing, and Castle Island Camps also volunteered boats, Foss said.

The fire was challenging to fight, he said, since Blueberry Island is about a quarter mile from the mainland.

“There’s water all around you,” Foss said. “We take our portable pumps and draft our water out of the lake. There’s a lot of hand tools and hand work involved.”

Foss said firefighters coated the island with foam in case the wind picked up.

He said conditions were dry Monday and fire danger was high. He cautioned people who build a campfire to keep it as small as possible and make sure it is doused completely with water and raked over.

“Even though it’s nice and green, it’s been fairly dry,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of wind.”

Smithfield firefighters stood by to assist, Foss said. Firefighters left the island about 11:30 a.m.

Foss said fires on islands in the Belgrade Lakes region typically are caused by campfires not fully extinguished, or by lightning.


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