A forest fire consumed at least 20 acres and closed a portion of Route 1 in Columbia Falls for several hours on Thursday, officials said.
Firefighters from five towns plus the Maine Forest Service have been battling the blaze since it was reported near the Balsam Valley Amphitheater at about 11 a.m., according to a dispatcher from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
As of 4 p.m., Route 1 was being reopened and the fire was reported under control, but still burning, the dispatcher said.
The 20 acres are owned by Morrill Worcester, the founder of Wreaths Across America, said Amber Caron, a spokeswoman for the family.
“Most important, all of our employees, family and the dozens of local volunteers and community members who have come to our aid, are safe. Volunteers are working hard to contain the flames,” Caron said in a statement.
The fire is “a safe distance” from several acres of remembrance trees that are tagged with the names of fallen veterans, Caron said.
The burned areas were not designated for wreath harvesting this year, she added.
Balsam Valley features a large partly-covered stage and two large tents amid several acres of open space. Created by the Worcester family near Route 1 and the Sunrise ATV Trails in 2014, the venue has hosted several acts, including Kansas, Leann Rimes and the Charlie Daniels Band, according to balsamvalley.com.
A concert featuring the Sawyer Brown band set for this weekend has been canceled, according to the site.
No other structures are known to be in that area, the dispatcher said.
Wind gusts of up to 15 mph were helping to propel the flames, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.