Model Rocket Sparks Fast-Moving Fire, Damaging Topsfield Athletic Fields

About two acres of baseball fields were burned at Pye Brook Park, but the dollar amount of the damage was not immediately known

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A family that was setting off model rockets inadvertently sparked a fast-moving grass fire that seriously damaged a park housing several athletic fields in Topsfield, Massachusetts, fire officials said.

The Topsfield fire chief said the incident showed the extreme fire danger as parts of the region experience severe drought. Wednesday's blaze left parts of several baseball fields charred and black, and several teams have had to reschedule games.

"It was wild to see," said Bill King, whose team was played on the field just a few days ago, and has had to move games since. He said the grass was "dead" when the team last played on it, "but it wasn't black, by any means."

Topsfield fire and rescue said they received a 911 call at 12:42 p.m. Wednesday from a person who was at Pye Brook Park with his family using model rockets. He said an accident had occurred, resulting in a grass fire that was spreading rapidly across the field.

PHOTOS: Model Rocket Fire Leaves Ball Fields Charred

Firefighters responded to the scene, but due to the size of the fire, the rate at which it was spreading and the extreme heat, firefighters quickly became exhausted and additional crews were called in from Boxford, with crews from Middleton, Hamilton and Wenham providing station coverage.

No injuries were reported. The fire was knocked down in under an hour, preventing the spread to several out buildings, dugouts and the adjacent woods.

"It was just a family having some outdoor time and they made a mistake," said Topsfield Fire Chief Jen Collins Brown. "I think the take-home message is, it is so dry -- it's windy, hot and dry -- the perfect, perfect storm for a fire."

About two acres in all were burned. The dollar amount of the damage to the fields was not immediately known.

Aerial photos of the fire shared on social media showed more than half of the area, including several baseball diamonds, completely charred, with little sign of any remaining grass.

Source: Bill King

Pye Brook Park is described as "an open area including baseball, football, and soccer fields as well as a disc golf course," according to the Essex County Trail Association's website.

Topsfield fire officials said the cause of the fire is being listed as unintentional.

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