Dry conditions mean high fire danger
By Peter Hirschfeld
Vermont Press Bureau | April 30,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff file photo
With very dry conditions currently, outdoor burning now is extremely hazardous, as even a soft breeze can cause a small burn to quickly get out of control.
MONTPELIER — State fire officials are urging caution in the woodlands after dry conditions helped fuel at least three small forest fires over the weekend.
Scores of firefighters helped put out fires in Woodbury, Monkton and Braintree. Crews worked through the night Sunday extinguishing hot spots over a 12-acre area off West Woodbury Road, dousing still-smoking brush until officials gave the all-clear early Monday afternoon.
Lars Lund, state forest fire supervisor at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, said the lack of high winds is the only thing keeping officials from declaring a fire weather watch.
“All the other conditions are in place,” Lund said Monday. “We’ve had a drying pattern over the last few days, and with the high-pressure system over the top of us, it looks like we’ll have a few more days of dry weather without any rain.”
Lund said he had no information on the cause of the fire in Woodbury, where about 70 firefighters from eight central Vermont departments made their way up a Class 4 road to access the remote area Sunday afternoon.
By 7:45 p.m., the fire had been contained. But singed tree trunks and charred underbrush signaled the blaze that had swept through hours earlier.
Lund said he got a call from Vermont Emergency Management at 8 p.m. Sunday, with officials trying to track down headlamps for the volunteers who would work through the night to extinguish hot spots from which smoke continued to billow.
Lund said the fires and the massive responses needed to put them out should serve as a reminder to residents that they need to obtain a burn permit from a fire warden before they do any open burning. With conditions as they are, Lund said, wardens may be reluctant to issue any before the next good rain.
“We haven’t directed anyone to cease issuing permits,” Lund said. “But a lot of times wardens will kind of shut it down until things moisten up.”