Fire departments from Stowe and Waterbury had to don hiking gear along with their firefighting tools, and carry as much water as they could to extinguish an errant blaze on the mountain ridge overlooking Stowe Hollow.

The welcome bout of rain received this week offered only minor respite, and the state forests department is warning about abnormally dry conditions, and is urging caution with fires.

Shortly before noon Saturday, Sept. 27, crews had to trek 1.6 miles to a remote location on the ridge between Hunger Mountain and Stowe Pinnacle in Stowe. Stowe Mountain Rescue was asked to assist with ropes. A hiker helped point crews in the right direction and helped carry water backpacks to the scene, making multiple trips up the rugged terrain.

“The cause of the fire is unknown but it serves as a good reminder that conditions are extremely dry and extreme caution needs to be used for outdoor burning or disposal of smoking materials,” Waterbury Fire Department posted on its Facebook page.

According to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, 51 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions “and the remainder of the state (is) abnormally dry.”

The department’s announcement said, normally, leaves and branches that decay on the ground helps maintain moisture. But, as has been seen in an unusually stubborn underground burn on Killington Mountain, the forest floor is very dry and susceptible to ground fires.

“This type of fire can be difficult and costly to extinguish and is often started by open burning such as burn piles, bonfires and campfires. Already this year, several ground fires have occurred in remote areas of the state caused by campfires that were not properly extinguished,” the statement reads.

Stowe Fire Department is banning burning for now.

“Due to the high winds, extremely dry ground fuels and low humidity, all outside burning in Stowe is suspended until we receive a substantial amount of precipitation,” the department said.

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