, Salem, MA

January 21, 2014

GFD quells bonfire fueled by holiday trees

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — GLOUCESTER — More than three years after Gloucester police and fire officials clamped down on Lanesville’s Fourth of July bonfire, crews were called Friday night to put the kibosh on a winter variation of the same thing — fueled by Christmas trees.

According to police reports, officers and city firefighters had to disperse a group of 40 to 50 adults who were drinking and gathered around an estimated 30 to 40 burning Christmas trees in Lanes Cove.

According to Gloucester Police, officer Mark Foote picked up several Christmas trees on Washington Street last Tuesday, then noticed a pickup truck with several trees in the back. He went to Lanes Cove, where he found about 200 to 300 Christmas trees stacked near a small shack at the end of Andrew Street.

Police officers then notified other city officials, including the building inspector and the Fire Department, about the hazard — including that the trees appeared to be near a propane tank. In the meantime, Foote also learned of reports that the trees were to be burned in a large fire Friday night.

The city’s Department of Public Works moved to pick up the trees and, as of Friday, many were gone, the police report indicated. But Foote stopped another motorist with a Christmas tree inside the vehicle on Friday, went to Lanes Cove again and came upon 40 to 50 adults drinking around a fire fueled by 30 to 40 Christmas trees.

Emergency radio reports from the scene Friday night indicated that “flames were coming over the wall,” though the fire did not appear to threaten any homes.

Firefighters put down the blaze, bonfire attendees were dispersed, and some cars were issued parking tickets, according to the police report.

There were no criminal charges filed against any of the participants.

”I ordered them to leave — and advised them to grow up,” Foote wrote in the police report.