Shovel-wielding man, bees prevent firefighters from battling island blaze

"It was very weird and unusual... there were a lot of issues," Deputy Fire Chief Mark Leporati said

By Norman Miller
Metrowest Daily News

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.-- Angry bees, low water and a disturbed man armed with a shovel were all hazards firefighters had to deal with on Tuesday while they tried to fight a fire on an island in the Sudbury River.

In the end, firefighters decided to let the rain extinguish the fire, Deputy Fire Chief Mark Leporati said.

Firefighters got the call about the fire on the island in the Sudbury Reservoir off Central Street around 10 a.m. A campfire had gotten out of control and spread to a dead tree. Things quickly began going wrong, the deputy chief said.

"It was very weird and unusual," said Leporati. "There were a lot of issues."

The first glitch occured when the boat that firefighters deployed got stuck in shallow water. The department had to put a second boat in the water and a firefighter had to shimmy on his stomach to the boat, hook up a rope and pull the first boat back into deep water.

The fire department contacted the Ashland Fire Department for backup because it has a flat-bottom boat. However, Leporati said, that boat was too large to launch without a boat ramp, and the Framingham firefighters had to make due with what they had.

Then they disturbed a beehive.

"Bees were an issue," said Leporati. "A dozen firefighters got stung multiple times. There were a lot of swollen spots. When the boat was approaching (the island) they were getting stung. They had to battle the bees."

Things did not get easier when firefighters arrived at the island.

"We were confronted by the guy there who was holding a shovel in a menacing way," said Leporati said. "We just kind of let it (the fire) go."

The man, who was not identified, is a member of the family who owns a portion of the island and they let him stay out there whenever he wants to.

Leporati said other than the bee stings firefighters suffered no other injuries. The only damage was to brush and the dead tree on the island. Crews were at the scene for about three hours.

"It was different," he said.

Copyright 2017 Metrowest Daily News

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