High Fire Danger in Connecticut

A dry winter and plenty of downed trees make for dangerous fire conditions.


Fire experts in Connecticut post fire danger signs every spring in Connecticut, before trees sprout leaves to shade the forest floor, but this year, the warnings are more intense than usual.

"We're probably three weeks ahead of ourselves," said Ralph Scarpino of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  "Lack of snowfall, the warm weather - usually we're talking 40 degrees right now - so we're way ahead of our usual pattern."

The "high" sign limits burning permits, so even people allowed to burn debris have to call off their plans if the site of their fire is within one hundred feet of woodland or grassland, Scarpino said.

"That's what happened in Lakeville Tuesday," he said.  "A puff of wind came in at the wrong time when a woman was burning debris, and a fire burned thirty acres."

He said that the leaves on the ground are so dry that even after a rainy morning they could be dry enough to catch fire by early afternoon.  This spring, there is more fuel than usual because of last year's tree-toppling storms.

Authorities rely on passersby to alert them of forest fires, he said, calling 911 on their cell phones to report smoke. 

Almost all brush fires in Connecticut are caused by people, Scarpino said.

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