STRATFORD - Fire and smoke swept through part of the Stratford shoreline today as the state forestry service conducted a rare brush burn to help restore acres of coastal grassland back to its natural state.

After a year-and-a-half of planning and hours of preparation, it took about a dozen members of the state forestry service just minutes to execute the controlled burn at the former site of the Remington Gun Club. At times, the flames reached 15-20 feet, scorching thick brush and waist-high grass.

Environmentalists say over the years, many foreign and invasive plants have overtaken some of the native species they're trying to preserve.

Officials say brush burns also take care of the thatch left behind by years of mowing.

While neighbors may not appreciate the smoke, they say eliminating the brush addresses the problem of pests.

Officials say it will only take a matter of weeks before the native habitat starts to regenerate and turn from black to green.