As firefighters battle a large brush fire that is threatening two homes near Devils Hopyard State Park, East Haddam, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today reminded residents that the Forest Fire Danger Level is currently VERY HIGH and that weather conditions will cause any brush fires to spread rapidly.
With this fire danger, open burning of brush is NOT allowed – even if a resident has a permit from the local open burning official.
In addition, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Connecticut because of weather conditions conducive to the rapid spread of fire. Red Flag warnings are issued when high winds will be sustained or there will be frequent gusts above a certain threshold (normally 25 mph), as is expected to be the case today. Red Flag conditions are also defined by humidity levels, below 30%, and precipitation for the previous five days of less than 1/4-inch.
“Residents need to know that any permit to burn brush is not valid when the Forest Fire Danger is rated high, very high, or extreme,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette. “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 firefighters are currently assisting local fire departments in fighting a fire in East Haddam in the vicinity of Devils Hopyard State Park. The first efforts to battle this blaze began Monday evening and continue today.
Forest Fire Prevention Tips
DEEP encourages residents of Connecticut to protect their families and homes from forest fire by:
Making a fire safe zone around your house. Clean flammable vegetation and debris from at least 30 feet around the house and any outbuildings;
Pruning away the lower limbs of evergreens that are within the fire safe zone. Evergreens catch fire easily during dry periods and burn quickly;
Removing any limbs which overhang the roof or chimney;
Regularly removing leaves and needles from gutters;
Not storing firewood in the fire safe zone;
Using fire resistant roofing materials;
Making 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;
Having an escape plan and practicing it;
Following state and local open burning laws;
Staying with outside fires until they are completely safe and dead out; and
Disposing 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 follow these recommendations:
Obey local laws regarding open fires, including campfires;
Keep all flammable objects away from fire;
Have firefighting tools nearby and handy;
Carefully dispose of hot charcoal;
Drown all fires;
Extinguish smoking materials with caution.
For more information on fire safety, contact DEEP’s Forestry Division at (860) 424-3630.