Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don't Let The Showers Fool You: Fire Danger Is High

We just endured a flood last week. The soil out there is still damp and wet. It rained in much of of the Northeast the past couple of days. There was even hail and thunderstorms on Cape Cod Wednesday.  
A firefighter works to extinguish a forest fire
near Bristol, Vermont last spring. The fire
danger is high again in the Northeast today.  

No need to worry about brush and wildfires here fire, right?

Wrong, wrong WRONG! Very wrong.

This time of year, there's lots of dry, dead stuff from last summer. Things haven't really greened up yet, so that dry, dead stuff can fuel dangerous brush and forest fires.

And never mind that it rained yesterday or the day before. This stuff dries out quickly in the April sun. (There's no leaves on the trees yet to shade this dry dead material in the fields and on forest floors. )

All it takes is weather like that forecast today and you can get big fires quickly.  Those fires can spread to houses and other buildings pretty fast.  We had days last spring when forest and brush fires damaged a couple buildings in Vermont, and threatened many more.

Across the Northeast, it's going to be sunny and windy today. The humidity is going to be very low.  Sometimes, in April, humidity here can drop to desert-like levels because there is no foliage to add moisture to the air.

The result is, there is a very high fire danger across most spots from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all the way down into the Mid-Atlantic states.  Red flag warnings and special weather statements are up across the region warning of the fire danger.

Today is NOT the day to burn your brush pile. Or carelessly throw cigarette butts out your car window. Or for children to play with matches.

These fires can get surprisingly big and fast. Just the other day near St. Johnsbury, Vermont, despite rain a few days earlier, a nine-acre brush fire threatened electric transmission lines and a neighborhood

So, don't be careless with fire. And let that brush pile sit until it rains again. Which will probably be this weekend.

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