With the weather getting nicer, you may find yourself spending more time outside grilling or enjoying a nice fire pit, but it can be a tricky time for fire danger in Connecticut.
"This time of year it's the fine fuels that light up quickly. We see leaves and twigs that have fallen over the winter time and can spread very quickly,” explains State Forester for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Chris Martin. “And it's called a surface fire. It doesn't really go into the ground. It can be something as innocent as a hot charcoal from a grill or a flick of a cigarette out of a window and even a spark from a mower hitting a rock. You see fires from that."
Just this past Tuesday, crews put out a 15-acre brush fire in Canterbury. But as spring continues to bloom, the fire risk will improve.
"Currently in southern Connecticut where the leaves are out more so than in northern Connecticut, they are at a more vegetative state where we have more shade on the ground, on the forest floor, and our relative humidity because of that greenery is decreased on a very localized level,” Martin said. “In northern Connecticut where there's full sunlight still hitting the forest floor you get those one--hour fuel spills where something could be saturated wet and then one hour with low relative humidity and wind it's ready to ignite."
Along with rain of course, relative humidity below 20 percent and windy conditions are two of the primary weather factors the State Division of Forestry looks for when determining fire danger.
"Which dries out these fine fuels within 24 hours and they can create a fire. It can rain, like rain last night, and then today we're at moderate. If the wind was stronger, today we'd probably be at high. If we have a few days without precipitation, low relative humidity and a windy day that definitely jumps up our fire danger."
And with more people spending time at home but still trying to enjoy the outdoors, it’s important to always take proper safety precautions when lighting any kind of fire.
"A lot of people like to grill outdoors and so disposal of hot charcoal, you have to be careful about that. Campfires are the same. Never leave a campfire unattended," advises Martin.
And remember if you ever see smoke that looks like more than recreational burning call 911.