Help prevent forest fires

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is reminding residents to be aware of forest fire dangers during the spring fire season.

In a press release sent to the media last week, DEEP announced it had issued a forest fire danger warning level of high, and the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for all of Connecticut because of dry conditions.

Any permit to burn brush is not valid when the forest fire danger level is rated high, very high, or extreme.

Red flag warnings are issued when winds will be sustained or there will be frequent gusts above a certain threshold, normally 25 mph. In addition, relative humidity needs to be below 30% and precipitation for the previous five days has to have been less than one-quarter inch.

“Last year, there were more than 500 reported fires in Connecticut that burned approximately 500 acres,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “Residents and municipalities need to know that any permit to burn brush is not valid when the forest fire danger level is rated high, very high, or extreme. Anyone spotting a forest fire should remain calm and dial 911 to report the fire as quickly as possible to the local fire department.”

DEEP’s Division of Forestry constantly monitors the danger of forest fire to help protect Connecticut’s 1.8 million acres of forested land. Forest fire danger levels are classified as low, moderate, high, very high, or extreme.

DEEP offers some suggestions to help residents prevent forest fires. They encourage residents of Connecticut to protect their families and homes from forest fire. Here are some suggestions.

Make a fire-safe zone around your house. Clean flammable vegetation and debris from at least 30 feet around the house and any outbuildings.

Prune away the lower limbs of evergreens that are within the fire safe zone. Evergreens catch fire easily during dry periods and burn quickly. Remove any limbs that overhang the roof or chimney.

Regularly remove leaves and needles from gutters. Do not store firewood in the fire-safe zone.

Use fire-resistant roofing materials when building or remodeling your home.

Make sure firefighters can find and access your home. Mark your house and roads clearly and prune away limbs and trees along your driveway which do not allow fire truck access.

We can’t stress enough that you follow state and local open burning laws. If you start a fire outside, stay with the fire until it is completely burned out.

Dispose of wood ashes in a metal bucket, soaking them with water before dumping them.

For those who enjoy the use of Connecticut’s parks, forests and open spaces, use fires with caution and be sure to obey local laws regarding open fires, including campfires.

Keep all flammable objects away from fire and have firefighting tools nearby and handy.

Carefully dispose of hot charcoal and drown all fires.

Extinguish smoking materials with caution.

For more information on fire safety, contact DEEP’s Forestry Division at 860-424-3630.