A firefighter walks on burned debris after a brush fire in Old Orchard Beach Thursday afternoon.

A firefighter walks on burned debris after a brush fire in Old Orchard Beach Thursday afternoon.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Firefighters were able to contain a brush fire that burned five acres of open land before it could damage nearby homes Thursday afternoon.

Around 1:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a call about a brush fire off School Street Extension, a dirt road that extends from School Street to Dirigo Drive Extension, according to Fire Chief Ricky Plummer.

Plummer said the fire was knocked down in about an hour and a half, and firefighters were on site until about 4:30 p.m.

The town received assistance from Saco, Scarborough and Biddeford fire departments. South Portland was at the scene with an ambulance.

One firefighter was taken by the Buxton Fire Department to the hospital with heat exhaustion, said Plummer. No one else was injured.

Goodwin’s Mills and Kennebunk fire departments manned the fire station.

The fire needed a lot of personnel because of the remote location and the amount of water needed, said Plummer. There were a few homes on Brook Drive that were in close danger, but firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to any structures, he said.

The brush consisted of bamboo, which “burns very fast and hot” with high flames, said Plummer.

“It was spreading quite fast with the wind,” he said.

Plummer said it is unknown what caused the fire. It is under investigation with the Maine Forest Service.

The fire occurred on the same day the Maine Forest Service issued a statement urging people to be careful with outdoor fires.

Maine’s spring wildfire season has begun two weeks early this year due to a mild winter and a lack of snow pack, according to the Maine Forest Service.

“Environmental conditions for the next several days are not favorable for safe outdoor burning. Warm afternoon temperatures, low relative humidity and gusty, dry winds encourage the spread of wildfire,” said the Maine Forest Service in the statement. “Combined with dry, dead grass and fallen branches from last year, it will not take much for a small fire to get out of control.”

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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