A forest fire driven by high winds destroyed more than 10 acres of woodland near a popular nature preserve in New Gloucester on Tuesday afternoon.

The fire at the Intervale Preserve off Intervale Road was reported around 1 p.m. It took firefighters from 10 towns as well as a Maine Forestry Service helicopter about four hours to bring the fire under control after it jumped the Royal River and entered the preserve.

The fire burned 10.3 acres, said Mary Rich, the town of New Gloucester’s Emergency Medical Service director.

Rich said the fire was driven by powerful wind gusts that carried embers across the Royal River. The Intervale Preserve, which is owned and operated by the Royal River Conservation Trust, is popular for its half-mile loop trial, ecology and habitat, access to the Royal River, and is used by snowmobilers as well as hunters.

The fire started on land next to the railroad tracks and may have been started by a spark from a passing train, but the cause remains under investigation, Rich said.

A Maine Forestry Service helicopter dropped water to help with the efforts. The fire was brought under control around 5 p.m.

Firefighters from Pownal, Durham, North Yarmouth, Gray, Windham, Raymond, Auburn, Poland, Freeport, and New Gloucester fought the fire.

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