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HISTORY - IN REVIEW
Brush & Forest Fire Apparatus History
BARNSTABLE COUNTY
 

~ THE STORY ~
~ 1965 FOREST FIRE JUMPED ROUTE 6 ~
PAGE 5
Page Updated March 8, 2022


 

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May 1, 1965 Forest Fire Jumped Route 6
A very fast moving fire came out of the Military reservation, jumped the Mid-Cape Highway
Route 6, and burned into downtown Sandwich.
 


PAGE CONTENTS


M - Map
01 - The Fire Burned Rapidly
02 - The Fire Jumped the Mid-Cape Highway Route 6
03 - Aftermath of the Fire from the Air and Ground

 
 

M

MAP

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CAPE COD & THE ISLANDS

 


The May 1, 1965 Forest Fire burned thousands of acres from about the middle of the hashed lines area (Camp Edward / Otis) into the dark green area (Shawme Crowell State Forest) above it. The fire stopped just before it got into the congested Sandwich Village.

Many of the photos from Dennis Newman collection.
Documentation of the radio traffic courtesy of Gordon Peters.
 

 
 

01

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1 - THE FIRE BURNED RAPIDLY
 

Sandwich May 1, 1965
Temperature about 75 degrees - Winds Southwest at 35 mph


The conditions could not have been better (or worse) for a serious forest fire on May 1, 1965. It had been dry and warm. The fire hazard classification was HIGH. All fire towers were up and keeping a sharp eye on the woods. Shortly after noon, temperatures in the area were about 75 degrees and the prevailing Southwest wind was blowing about 35 mph.

At about 12:54 hrs, fire towers picked up a smoke out on the Base (Camp Edwards/Otis AFB). The towers lined the fire up in the area of Forestdale - Pocasset Road near the impact area. Otis Fire Department was responding. The fire progressed as follows.

12:54 hrs   - Brush Fire is Reported in area of FORESTDALE - POCASSET ROAD in Otis

13:01 hrs  - The BOURNE FIRE TOWER Reports the fire is MOVING FAST.
                    Otis had 2 Breakers Responding.

13:03 hrs  - The Bourne Fire Tower Updates A LOT OF FIRE THERE.

13:06 hrs  - The Bourne Fire Tower Updates LOOKS REAL BAD.
                    State Car 2 - District Fire Warden - Requests 7 or 8 Brush Breakers and
                    4 or 5 Tank trucks. Yarmouth Mutual Aid Center KCD 246 handles request.
                    Apparatus Dispatched and Responding included:
                    County Breaker C-15 from North Falmouth
                    Sandwich Breaker B-142 from Sandwich
                    Sandwich Breaker B-143 from Sandwich
                    County Breaker C-14 from West Barnstable
                    Mashpee Breaker B-250 from Mashpee
                    Mashpee Breaker B-254 from Mashpee
                    Bourne Breaker B-130 from Bourne
                    Bourne Breaker B-128 from Bourne
                    Town of Barnstable Breaker B-216 from Osterville
                    Falmouth Tanker 35 from East Falmouth
                    Sandwich Tanker T-148 from East Sandwich
                   
13:12 hrs  - Mashpee Fire Chief Peters Car 251 Reports ON LOCATION -
                    REQUESTED 8 - 10 MORE BRUSH BREAKERS - NOW!

13:12 hrs  - Barnstable County Fire Patrol Plane P-18 in the area Reports 40 - 50 ACRES BURNING
                   AND SPREADING FAST!

13:15 hrs  - Fire Reached WOOD ROAD and is SPREADING FAST.

13:15 hrs  - BOURNE FIRE TOWER put in Request for ADDITIONAL TRUCKS
                   Additional apparatus included:
                   County Breaker C-12 from Dennis
                   Harwich Breaker B-65 from Harwich
                   Barnstable Breaker B-204 from Barnstable
                   Town of Barnstable Breaker B-217 from Cotuit

13:20 hrs  - Calls made to PLYMOUTH COUNTY for 15 MORE BRUSH BREAKERS and
                   10 TANK TRUCKS - PLUS ALL OF DISTRICT 2 TRUCKS

13:25 hrs  - The fire reached and CROSSED JEFFERSON ROAD and was rapidly heading
                    for GIBBS ROAD.
                  -  A plan was quickly made to MAKE A STAND ON ROUTE 6.
                  - The State Police were asked to CLOSE ROUTE 6.
                  - A Request went out for ALL AVAILABLE PUMPERS and TANK TRUCKS to
                    ROUTE 6 and ROUTE 130.
                  - A Request to PLYMOUTH COUNTY for ALL AVAILABLE PUMPERS & TANKS
                    TRUCKS to Stage on BOURNE/SANDWICH LINE.

13:30 hrs  - The fire about to CROSS GIBBS ROAD.
                    Patrol Plane P-18 Reports DOUBT IT CAN BE STOPPED AT ROUTE 6!

13:45 hrs  - The fire CROSSED GIBBS ROAD and HEADING FOR MID-CAPE HIGHWAY.

14:20 hrs  - The FIRE JUMPED ROUTE 6 with Many Trucks on the road.

14:40 hrs  - Orders made for ALL PUMPS and TANKERS to ROUTE 6A SANDWICH VILLAGE

15:30 hrs  - The fire is FINALLY STOPPED at SANDWICH VILLAGE

22:30 hrs  - Apparatus Released from Mutual Aid

The fire burned several thousand Acres of forest in about 2:45 hours. The blackened area was visible from Route 6 for years until new growth filled in. It came very close to burning right into the most congested and historic part of Sandwich.

Photos and information on the fire came from several sources including Dennis Newman and Gordon Peters.

The May 1, 1965 fire burning rapidly northward towards Sandwich.

Looking over the Canal towards Sandwich from Bourne

The fire easily jumped several of the natural breaks and roads within the heavily wooded forest.

Otis Brush Breakers attempt to catch up with the fire.


 

 

02

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2 - FIRE JUMPS ROUTE 6
 

The rapidly moving fire was headed for Route 6.
If that didn't stop the fire, it would burn into the historic parts of downtown Sandwich Village.
The decision was made to MAKE A STAND on Route 6, putting all available trucks in front
of the fire in hopes of stopping it from jumping the highway.
Getting in front of a rapidly moving fire is generally discouraged and can be very dangerous.
It is also often ineffective as was proven with this fire.
 

 

Flames a hundred feet high as the fire approaches Route 6.

Otis Brush Breaker 14 on Route 6 prepares to take on the fire.

Pumpers from several towns took a stand on Route 6 with only their tank water to work with.

The fire JUMPED ROUTE 6.

 

 

 

03

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3 - THE AFTERMATH OF THE FIRE
 

The fire jumped Route 6 near the Bourne / Sandwich Town Line.
The blackened area included the forest right up to the highway, the small trees in the median,
and many more Acres on the Sandwich side of the highway for years to come.
 

It is believed this is the area of origin near Forestdale - Pocasset Road.

Looking South over Route 6A Main Street towards the blackened Shawme Crowell State Forest where the fire was finally stopped.

 

On the ground post fire survey shows the amount of damage to the forest land.

Under the best of conditions the area would be difficult to transit even with a brush breaker. Large boulders, steep hills, and difficult terrain makes firefighting very difficult.

State patrol truck on the fire road.

State Patrol 4 on Route 6 about where fire jumped.

The right flank where the fire crossed Route 6.

Fire burned the forest right behind this building believed to be within Shawme Crowell.

 
 
 
 
 

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CAPE COD BRUSH BREAKERS 

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~ THE STORY ~
~ 1965 FOREST FIRE JUMPED ROUTE 6 ~
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