Cause of Sleeping Giant fire unknown
Saturday afternoon’s brush fire on Sleeping Giant State Park destroyed five-and-a-half acres of land near the blue trail, also known as the “chin,” according to Hamden Fire Department. Nobody was injured and the fire was contained by Saturday night, but the underground fire was not put out until Sunday.
The fire could have started for many reasons, according to Fire Marshall Dennis Harrison. Any evidence is usually destroyed in the fire with brush fires like this, Harrison said.
Due to the thick layers of leaves and compose that cover the mountain, the fire began to burn through these layers at the surface.
The park and trails are currently reopened, however, Battalion Chief Don LaBlanca says students should stay out of the top area.
Lieutenant Sam Muzio of the North Haven Fire Department said fire rescue squads from Bethany, North Haven, Hamden, Yalesville, Wallingford and Cheshire responded to the fire within the first hour. A total of about 40 firefighters continued to work on the fire until it was contained, according to Battalion Chief Don LaBlanca.
It took longer to put out the fire because it was on top of the mountain, according to Harrison. Firefighters carried five gallons of water at a time on their backs and used hoses to spread the water. The firefighters were up and down the mountain with water until about 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The park closed once the fire department realized the extent of the fire, LaBlanca said.
The firefighters did not evacuate the park, but instead let the people who were already on the mountain go down themselves.
Once the Hamden Fire Department officially put the fire out on Sunday, the State Department of Environmental protection worked until Monday night making sure the ground was dry so no fires could rekindle. They ran hoses all day Monday, Oct. 28 from the Mount Carmel Avenue fire hydrants up the mountain to make sure the underground fire is terminated.
Since it was Parents’ Weekend, many people were on the mountain when the fire began.
Sophomore Michelle Wendt encountered a large amount of smoke when she was hiking toward the castle with her family. She said at the time the fire department did not evacuate the trail, but they were not letting others up.
Headed down in the opposite direction was freshman Toni Santillo and her family on the yellow trail, who then switched to the red trail and saw smoke.
“No one hiking was really in a panic, but a lot of people were coming down when we were hiking up,” Santillo said.
LaBlanca warns students not to light any fires or bring cigarettes up on the mountain because they can easily start a fire at this time.
“It is literally powder dry up there,” LaBlanca said.
Due to the the lack of rainfall, the air is extremely dry and therefore “it is extraordinarily dangerous to burn cigarettes and other materials,” Harrison said.