Dangerous weather conditions have forced the cancellation of Saturday’s night’s bonfire at Patton Park, the traditional end of Pumpkin Fest.
The remaining activities that are part of Pumpkin Fest - in its sixth year - will go ahead as planned, including pumpkin carving, games and a costume parade for kids. The event runs from 12:30-6 p.m. at the public safety building in Hamilton, with the bulk of the activities from 12:30-3 p.m. and a spaghetti dinner from 4-6 p.m.
Hamilton Fire Chief Phil Stevens announced on Friday at 2:15 p.m. that the Saturday evening bonfire was cancelled.
It is the second year that the Pumpkin Fest bonfire has been cancelled. Last year, the lighting of the pumpkins around Weaver Pond at Patton Park was cancelled during a townwide ban of organized outdoor activities after 5 p.m. because of the health threat from mosquito-borne illnesses, including Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile Virus. No such ban was imposed this year. The ban also extended to the bon fire last year.
Stevens' decision this year was prompted after Chief Dave Celino of the state Bureau of Forest Fire Control issued an alert on Friday afternoon that said “increases in wind over the next few days combined with lack of rain and low fuel moistures” will increase the possibility for fires to grow and spread.
Wing gusts on Saturday are predicted up to 30 miles per hour. There has not been any measurable rain in the past five days and just .08 inch of rain in the past two weeks, according to weather observations from Beverly Airport.
Celino said in his statement that has seen an increase in woods and brush fires during the past four days, mainly in the central and northeastern part of the state. Peabody and Lynnfield firefighters battled a woods fire on Thursday and a fire on Friday morning near the Middleton and North Andover town lines was being fought by firefighters from several communities.
Most of the fire have been relatively small – between one and two acres – Celino said, and dry, unshaded slopes are at the highest risk. The cool temperatures and cloud cover will help to somewhat moderate the risk, he said.